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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2285 ..


Ms Hunter’s second lot of amendments seem to do much of what that old regulation did, but they only seem to do it. When you really look at the detail, it is not there. The enforcement is not there; the powers to require the minister to take account of particular things is not there. The other things which were added later—the capacity for friends of communities and people associated with communities to seek redress—are not there. Until those things are there in black-letter law, the people of the ACT will be undone by the likes of Andrew Barr. That is why we are not supporting these amendments today. We will not be part of another sham consultation process.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.32): It is interesting that the Greens have brought this bill on today, and one cannot help getting a feeling that there are some crocodile tears here. The Greens were elected on a platform where people were of the opinion that the Greens were going to somehow reverse or assist in reversing the closure of schools or reopen some particular schools. That is an impression they were certainly left with. Indeed, when you look at recommendation 13 of the education committee report on the closures of the schools, there is a recommendation that Hall and Tharwa primary schools be immediately reopened—commence the work. To have the Greens here saying today, “Let’s set up a process so that we might do this better into the future,” really beggars belief. It really makes it hard to believe that the Greens are actually committed to any of this.

We had an opportunity where the injustice that was done to two small communities—two unique communities in the territory—could have been undone. People had an expectation, based on the election, that that injustice would be undone. Yet what we find is that when the opportunity presented, the opponent that said that they were third party insurers, the opponent that was going to stand up for small communities like this, walked away from it. They walked away from the Greens member on the committee who agreed to this recommendation that said, “Let’s start the work.” More importantly, they walked away from the people of Hall and they walked away from the people of Tharwa.

I have to say that I have a particular concern about Tharwa as it is in my electorate. I have a particular concern on what that school closure did to that particular community. A large number of them feel very betrayed by this Assembly, by the Labor Party and by the Greens. They had an expectation that they would get their school back, and they did not. They read this report, signed up to by Ms Bresnan and Mr Hanson, that said that the committee recommends that, based on the demographic, educational, social and economic evidence presented during the inquiry, the government immediately commences the process to reopen the Hall and Tharwa primary schools.

The Tharwa community were pretty happy with that outcome, because they could count. They could see that the Liberal and the Greens member on the committee had agreed to it. They assumed, therefore, that six and four—10—would see a motion in the Assembly or something happen—for example, the Greens might use their influence inside their alliance with the Labor Party to actually make this happen. What did they get? They got betrayal.

I think the Tharwa community residents in particular would look at this bill today and simply say: “So what? It’s crocodile tears. It’s too little. It’s too late. It’s not going to


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