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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 226 ..


have been vacant for 17 years. Some of my children attended the Evatt preschool. For 17 years that has been run as a single-stream preschool. It is yet to be demonstrated to this place—there has been an assertion by this minister—or to the parents of Gumnut that there is an urgent need and that that urgent need cannot be accommodated in the Evatt primary school, where I understand there are empty classrooms. Those issues have not been addressed by the minister for education or the minister responsible for childcare. They have not been addressed here today. She has simply asserted something. Asserting something does not substantiate it and it does not give an explanation to the Gumnut parents.

In addition to that, Ms Burch’s amendment squibs it all the way along the line. Providing clarity is not what they ask for. They know what their situation is. They know that if things do not change, at the end of this year there will be no Gumnut Place because there will be no accommodation for them. They know that 80 children—50 families, 35 places—and 12 people in employment will not be working or occupying places at the Gumnut childcare centre in Evatt because it will not be viable.

The other thing we know is that the Gumnut childcare community board made a specific request to the minister which she has knocked back. This is a request that Gumnut childcare centre made to me and Minister Barr in 2006 because they knew back in 2006 that they would come under pressure with the closure of preschools around them. They have asked for clarity time and again. I made representations to Mr Barr on this subject. As recently as November last year they were making representations to the minister asking if they could have McKellar preschool, which is vacant, and they were told no. The only definitive thing that this minister has told them is that one of the options that they found for themselves and put forward has been knocked back by this minister.

There is no guarantee in this amendment today that Ms Burch and her department will do anything more than continue to knock back the Gumnut Place childcare centre at Evatt. There is no guarantee, because what she is going to do is “provide clarity”. We know what their situation is. They are in a very difficult place. They do not have options. “Continue to investigate options” is not “find an option”. That is looking at them and going, “Not really very convenient; we won’t do it.” As to any attempt to find suitable accommodation, there is no commitment in Ms Burch’s amendment to the people of Gumnut. My motion sought to provide certainty so that they could come away from here today knowing that the ACT Legislative Assembly was standing behind them and that they would have accommodation come the end of the year.

These are weasel words from Ms Burch. Ms Hunter has signed up to those weasel words. She has sold out the people of Gumnut again. The message when I talked to the Gumnut parents was that they went to see the Greens about this issue. The Greens’ initial response was to say, “If the government has made that decision, we can’t do anything about it.” They just roll over every time. What they were asked to do today—

Ms Hunter: On a point of order, Mr Speaker—

MR SPEAKER: Stop the clock, please.


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