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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 4101..


MR STEFANIAK: There were 39 schools that you indicated would close without any consultation at that stage. Even after six months you are still stating that you are going ahead with 23. Don't you talk to me about Charnwood high school.

Mr Barr: You don't want to know, do you?

MR STEFANIAK: You were not around then. They had options. None of these schools had any real options. You have made an arbitrary decision. We have made quite clear what we will do. The schools listed for closure at the end of 2008 could be saved. We would have a moratorium from 2008 to 2012. We would not initiate any school closures.

We have indicated to the community that if it were viable—in other words, if you had not bulldozed the site and there were the necessary community support—we would bring schools back and we would establish the fund I mentioned earlier in relation to that. I hope that would at least give the community some hope. That is a far more sensible policy than what you have done here. This is a very sad day for public school education in the ACT.

I think we all realise, and the community realises, that demography changes, that there will be a need for some schools to change, and that there will be a need for new schools to be built. But where you have gone appallingly wrong is in arrogantly, arbitrarily and illogically making a quick decision which you have tried to justify with some educational gobbledegook using eight or nine different models, many of which I see you are not proceeding with now. After six months of compulsory discussions with the community, which you had in accordance with the Education Act, you have now come up with this.

Government members interjecting

MR STEFANIAK: We put to you great criteria of how to go about this process, which you have rejected several times this year. We have indicated that we will bring that back. It is a procedure which the P&C, the AEU and the school communities accept. It shows you how to consult. You have ignored that. You have arrogantly closed these schools. You have caused an immense amount of needless angst to many people. That is not going to go away. That will continue, in many instances, over the school holiday period, as parents desperately try to work out what on earth they are doing next year. You have caused further angst with your plans further down the track in relation to some of these other schools. It is a misguided policy. It does not serve education well. This is a sad day for public education. (Time expired.)

Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Standing orders—suspension

Motion (by Mr Corbell ) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent order of the day, executive business, relating to the proposed censure of the Shadow Minister


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