Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2283 ..
account of what that committee says. He can make up his mind to close a school, he can go through a chaired consultation and he can stick to the decision he made at the outset. There is no possibility of review of that decision and there is no possibility that the minister will be forced to make a substantial statement of reasons as to why he has closed a school.
Mr Barr: He or she, Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: We are talking about “the minister”, the minister who has form on closing schools, the minister who has steadfastly resisted any improvement to the community consultation process. Suddenly he wants to sign up to community consultation processes on school closures. I think it is quite ironic that we have this process being debated now when you look at the sorts of things that the Greens said in the run-up to the last election and during and immediately subsequent to the school closures inquiry that was conducted last year. The Greens led people to believe that they would act to keep schools open.
In the run-up to the election—I know they hedged their words a bit and did end up sitting on the fence a bit—the takeout message for people in my electorate who were struggling with the school closures issue was that the Greens would support them in helping to either keep open or reopen their schools. On the day that the school closure inquiry reported, the Greens representatives said, “We’ll stick to these commitments and we’ll follow them right down to the line.” Of course, Andrew Barr made it very clear on every occasion—you have to applaud him for his consistency on that—including in evidence before the inquiry into school closures, that there was nothing that this Assembly could do that would induce him to reopen any school that he had closed. While ever there was a pulse in his body, he was not going to reopen schools.
He made that perfectly clear, and the only way that you could have done that was by the Greens and the Canberra Liberals working together to force him to do it. But, of course, the Greens, who said, “We will stick by these recommendations to reopen Flynn and Cook schools,” crumpled as soon as their senior coalition partner started breathing down their necks.
Mr Doszpot: They certainly did not go all the way.
MRS DUNNE: They certainly did not go all the way. They crumpled and they turned around and they abandoned the people that they said that they would look after. They abandoned the people of Hall, the people of Flynn, the people of Cook and the people of Tharwa. What we have here today is not an 11th-hour but a 15th-hour motion—“What are we going to do? We’ll have to be seen to be doing something.”
I put it to you, Ms Hunter, that the best time to take a bucket of water into a fire is when that fire is still burning. The fire is out; the schools are closed; you are complicit in ensuring that those schools remain closed, because you would not support the people that you said you would support. You come in here today with a series of amendments to the education bill. You have had three goes at it. It is half baked, and Andrew Barr thinks it is a good idea.