Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4168..
Sitting suspended from 12.35 to 2.30 pm.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for the Arts): I inform members that the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Health is on ministerial business in Sydney and is unable to attend question time. To the extent that I am able, I am happy to take questions that may have been directed to Ms Gallagher.
Questions without notice
MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the minister for education. During the 2004 election, a spokesperson for Minister Gallagher made a commitment that no schools would close during the next term of a Labor government. No-one corrected his statement. In fact, 23 schools will now close, in a stunning breach of the electorate's trust that has drawn the condemnation even of national media such as the Daily Telegraph, with its headline "Class Clown". Why should the Canberra community have any confidence in your assurances on the future of their school given the government's track record on this issue?
MR BARR: I thank Mr Stefaniak for the question and the opportunity to correct the record. My understanding is that prior to the 2004 election my predecessor made a statement in the Canberra Times in an extensive interview on schools. She was explicitly asked whether she could guarantee that no schools would close. She said, "No. No minister could guarantee that no schools would close."The premise of Mr Stefaniak's question is in fact wrong.
MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. I doubt that I got that one wrong, but here is the supplementary anyway. Minister, will you initiate any future school closures other than those announced yesterday?
MR BARR: The government outlined yesterday a series of proposed closures and changes to the education system that take us up to the year 2011. The government has no plans to deviate from those proposals announced yesterday. We are looking forward to the next five years.
MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Minister for Education. Minister, in the information that was released yesterday in association with the announcement of the closure of 23 government schools there is reference to a transitional support payment. Your documents say that families of affected students will be able to access a one-off transitional support payment of $750. Minister, what is the basis for making this payment? Is there any differentiation between families that have one child and families that have more than one child that are eligible for this payment?