Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6072 ..
procedure in the Assembly, or so it seems. And there is no better example of the tail wagging the dog than what we see played out in this chamber.
In our deliberations on this debate, I would like to put a number of issues on the record. Firstly, the opposition is supportive of a teacher quality institute in the ACT. Secondly, we have conveyed this sentiment to both the government and the Greens and have offered to work together in good faith to address several concerns that have been raised regarding this bill. However, we have a number of issues with regard to the timing of when this bill was tabled and with the series of amendments that have been mentioned, which have only been circulated to us this morning.
The series of events leading up to today’s debate goes as follows. The bill was tabled on 18 November and adjourned to be debated on 7 December, after only three weeks. The minister’s office organised a 30-minute briefing on the bill in the afternoon on the day prior to when the bill was to be debated, where it was discovered that the government intended to amend its own bill. This also coincided with the publication of the scrutiny report regarding this bill, which identified five pages of concerns. The bill was removed from the 7 December sitting program. And as of late yesterday afternoon, we were advised by the minister’s office that the bill would be brought on for debate today.
The time frame between the publication of the scrutiny report and the intended date of debate was less than a day. The time frame between the publication of the scrutiny report and today is a little more than three days. Suffice it to say, whatever amendments can be made in this short time frame can only be cursory. And it is ironic that my Greens counterpart on this matter is, at the same time, a member of the scrutiny committee. Coincidence? I think not.
Truth is, this is a rush job, with a reporting deadline to meet and a benchmark payment to receive. The question begs to be asked: what does the ACT stand to gain with the proposed institute? It is the minister’s responsibility to make his much hyped-up promises a reality. It is fine to speak of the benefits that the institute can bring to teachers in the ACT. Yet before we can get carried away with how this initiative will “guarantee the depth and quality of the staff that we already have”, as the government has been quoted as saying, they need to give further assurances that teachers will not be disadvantaged by the passing of this bill.
We second the sentiment of both the public and private sector school systems in our support for a teacher quality institute in the ACT. That said, issues on certain key aspects of the proposed bill identified by the scrutiny report warrant monitoring and continued consideration.
The importance of finally being in line with the other jurisdictions in having a statutory authority for teacher accreditation is significant. Hence, if this bill were to be passed, this bill should be properly considered. And given that it will affect approximately 8,000 teachers working in the ACT, there should be no room in this bill for doubt at a base level.
Having conducted the necessary consultations, we feel that this bill meets this basic criterion. Although it has been introduced in haste and is not ideal, it is passable and