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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4273 ..

consideration of the range of competing interests that hopefully produces the best outcomes. Of course, that will be responses to truancy that we are experiencing across ACT schools. I move the amendment circulated in my name:

Omit paragraphs (2) and (3), substitute:

“(1) (d) that the intention and objectives of the Principal of Lanyon High School are supported, but there are a range of appropriate alternative strategies that can be utilised by the school to address these issues; and

(2) calls on the Minister for Education and Training to continue to work with the Department of Education and Training, Principal of Lanyon High School and the ACT Human Rights Commission to develop appropriate strategies in relation to truancy.”.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Gaming and Racing) (11.44): I thank Mr Doszpot for bringing this motion forward today, and Ms Hunter for her contribution. Indeed, empowering principals with the right tools to fight truancy is fundamental. Supporting all principals to fulfil their legal obligation to ensure the safety of students and their attendance at school is a key part of the government’s approach to school autonomy.

But I must say that I am disappointed that such an important issue is being treated so frivolously by the Liberal opposition. Yesterday in question time, I lamented the paucity of policy development on the opposition benches, and I am afraid to say that today’s motion is further evidence that the Canberra Liberals are bereft of any ideas. This juvenile politicisation of an important issue is further evidence of this.

Let me make it clear that I support all principals, teachers and school communities in addressing truancy problems.

Mr Doszpot: Except when it does not suit you, Mr Barr. And this does not suit you.

Mrs Dunne: Except when it does not suit you.

MR BARR: Under the Education Act, attendance at school is compulsory.

Mr Doszpot: And this does not suit you.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): Mr Doszpot, you will have an opportunity to return to this in your closing speech. Please do not interject across the chamber. Do not try my patience today. Mrs Dunne, you are included in that warning.

MR BARR: It is also a key part of the national “learn or earn” reforms. And these are reforms which were, disappointingly, mocked in question time yesterday by the shadow education minister. He was out there mocking laws that are doing more to help young people get the skills that they need to get a job and lead a productive life. We see again why it is always opposition for opposition’s sake with the Canberra Liberals, because they are out of touch and out of ideas.

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