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We do have a government and non-government schooling system in the ACT. People have a choice. We have a good government schooling system. If a non-government school is preferable for any reason, then part of the decision to send a child there, for better or worse, is the philosophy, including the disciplinary system, of that school.

This proposed board of review is intended to apply to both the government and non-government school sectors. As Mr Moore said in his presentation speech, we already have an appeals mechanism for suspension, transfer or expulsion, although this is only a very last resort, in the government schooling sector. As neither the Australian Education Union nor the P and C Council has expressed strong views to the Greens over this issue, we trust that this mechanism already operates satisfactorily. Moreover, as Mr Moore said in his explanatory statement, many schools in the non-government sector have already put in place their own appeals mechanism, and we encourage others to do so.

We have some concerns that if this right to appeal is entrenched it is only the beginning of dealing with the problem. One fundamental principle of the Greens is to deal with the core of any particular problem, rather than where the problem may eventually be manifested. This is why we are wholly supportive of early intervention policies. They aim to address behavioural problems, for example, before these problems lead to the need for expulsion. If we legislate to introduce an appeals mechanism into non-government schools, should we not then have input into the curriculum of these schools to ensure that they introduce prevention measures, including comprehensive early intervention measures? My argument here is: If this Assembly sees fit to deal with the end result of a problem that stems from behavioural concerns, should we not also legislate to introduce programs which address the root of the problem?

Although we will not be supporting this legislation, I would like to commend Mr Moore for putting the work into it. As I have said, Lucy and I do not believe that a legislature should impose this process on the non-government school sector. However, the very act of bringing this issue to the attention of the Assembly has raised the profile of the issue. We note that the Catholic schooling sector has put in place its own suspension and expulsion policy, which includes an appeals mechanism. We are strongly urging the Association for Independent Schools to follow this lead, as it would not only increase their credibility to consumers but also give more certainty generally in the sector.

MS McRAE (11.23): Mr Speaker, the Opposition will similarly not be supporting Mr Moore's Bill. We endorse the sentiments and understand the concern that drives Mr Moore; but, having received representations from the independent school sector and having given it considerable thought, we see no reason at this point to support the Bill.

MR WOOD (11.23): Mr Speaker, I want to make some comments, as the Minister at the time Mr Moore introduced his Bill. I recollect that it followed the expulsion of some students from Canberra Grammar School. I think Mr Moore has gained something by proposing this Bill. He made the point that the Catholic education sector had introduced new processes in response, although they already had some. The independent schools also, I know, have been looking at it.

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