Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 September 2010) . . Page.. 4281 ..
support the principal—that, if they refuse service, that is equally open to the interpretation that they are not refusing service on the basis of their age but on the basis that they know that these kids should be in school and, if they do serve them, they are aiding and abetting in people transgressing the Education Act. If they refuse, they do so on the basis that they have a higher responsibility as members of their community to ensure that the best interests of the child are served and those interests are not served by them buying milkshakes, buying Kingsley’s or buying magazines and chewing gum. It is about going to school when they are supposed to be there—attending school and participating in school programs.
It is a shameful day when the minister for education and the convenor of the Greens, and, presumably, all of the Greens, think that it is all right to undermine a school principal—and on such tenuous grounds. Ms Hunter was very interesting. She gave us, as she does, long, rather learned, bookish sorts of legal sounding approaches in her speech. And she made it perfectly clear, saying that the Greens cannot endorse this action, because we cannot encourage people to break the law. She said that what the principal was asking the shopkeepers to do was unlawful.
But it was interesting that, when she reported on her conversation with the Children and Young People Commissioner, she reported him as saying, “It may be unlawful.” So what we actually have here is some flip-flopping from Ms Hunter: “It is definitely unlawful and we could not possibly endorse that,” becomes “Well, it may be unlawful.” Instead of undermining the principal and the shopkeepers, as they have done today, they should be seeking ways of ensuring that, if a principal asks for this to happen or a shopkeeper agrees for this to happen, they will not be taken through the Human Rights Commission process because they are looking after the people of the ACT.
MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (12.15): Mr Speaker, I will speak to the amendment. I think if one thing has been highlighted here this morning—or this afternoon, as the case is now—it is just how out of touch our colleagues on the Labor side and the Greens are regarding this matter of serious importance to the community.
I have been out to Lanyon high a few months ago when this problem first became known. I have been out to the Lanyon shops just last week to have a look at what the community thinks about these issues. You, Mr Barr and Ms Hunter, are totally out of touch with what the community expects us as legislators to do. It is to make laws clearer to our constituency. It is to express what we would like to see in education, not to confound and confuse and obfuscate on all these matters. That is the way that we are heading with these various arguments coming into play.
Our motion, as Mr Seselja pointed out, is a very simple one. We are simply calling on the Assembly to endorse the recent and publicised efforts of the principal of Lanyon high in seeking to address the truancy problems at his school. We also call on the Minister for Education and Training to express his support for the principal of Lanyon high school and all ACT principals and teachers in addressing truancy problems.
As I said, Mr Barr and Ms Hunter are out of touch with this situation. I would just like to draw to the attention of the minister for education, the Attorney-General and the