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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4275 ..


Mr Smyth: Yes, but are you backing up the principals?

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, please!

MR BARR: In 2009, 79,400 messages about student attendance were sent to parents and carers across the ACT. This service is in addition––

Mr Seselja: This is exactly the point, is it not?

Mr Smyth: Yes, it is the point. Are you backing up the principals?

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, do you want to join the ranks? You can feel free. Mr Barr, please hold the phone. I suggest that all four members of the opposition re-acquaint themselves with the standing orders, particularly those relating to interrupting members while they are speaking.

Mrs Dunne: I wish to take a point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. There was exchange between Mr Smyth and Mr Seselja that was not an attempt to interrupt anyone. I think you need to be very mindful of what is going on in this place.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, resume your seat. Mr Smyth was directing his remarks to Mr Barr.

Mrs Dunne: Mr Assistant Speaker—

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Sit down, Mrs Dunne, or I shall warn you.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. As I was indicating, this SMS service is in addition to the usual methods used by schools to notify parents if their child is absent from school.

Secondly, under section 16B of the Education Act, a compliance notice may be given to a child’s parents if that child is not attending school or participating in alternative education settings. This notice must clearly contain the actions that a child’s parents must take to comply. That is essentially to get their child to attend school or to get their child participating in training or in an alternative education setting.

Failure to take action and comply with the notice is an offence, and it becomes a matter for ACT Policing and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The maximum penalty is not insignificant, 10 penalty units. There have been prosecutions under this act in the past, indeed in the recent past, and there will continue to be prosecutions in the future if these particular matters are not responded to by parents. But I reiterate what I said yesterday: overall, there are not particularly alarming, high levels of truancy in the ACT.

If the Canberra Liberals believe they have found a major new policy problem which the government has not turned its mind to yet, I think they will find they are sadly mistaken. And it is a shame to see how out of touch they are on this issue. Rather than


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