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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2292 ..

The same thing happened this time around where I was told only five minutes before the bill came on, when I went up to Mr Doszpot and said, “What are you doing with this bill? Your office won’t tell me,” and finally he said no. Again, that really upset me. I do have a lot of respect for Mr Doszpot and I do believe that he does really want to do the best by education. And that is why I guess I am disappointed that there has not been active engagement in having a look at that.

We have given it to you. Why have I not had back some suggestions for amendments, some concerns raised about where you do not think it quite works or whether it might be improved? Not one suggestion, not one bit of engagement. I guess that is why I find your response so disappointing after all this time in getting it up. But thank you to the other members who are supporting it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 3, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 4.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (3.57): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 2366].

Although we are going to take some of the clauses separately, or the amendments separately, I will use this opportunity to speak to all of them at this stage of the debate.

Following extensive consultation over the past 18 months, these amendments centre on the need for a proper consultation process, an independent review of any proposed closures or amalgamations of schools, and consideration of all factors involved in and surrounding the school or schools involved in a proposed amalgamation or closure. Part of a proper consultation process is to ensure that there is some independence in that process.

The Assembly committee inquiring into school closures and reform of the ACT education system in 2006 recommended that in any move to close or amalgamate schools in future, independent assessments must be conducted to consider the social impact of the proposed changes and students affected by any change. The amendments provide for a panel of three people to be appointed to undertake the review and require that the Legislative Assembly education and training standing committee be consulted on who those members are. This is set out in a new section 20A.

We feel that at the very beginning of the process to close or amalgamate a school, any decision or consultation should have regard to the principles of government schooling set out in sections 7 and 18 of the act, in particular those affecting equity and education, outcomes, reasonable access to schools, and partnerships and education.

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