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I have had a number of discussions, albeit fairly brief, with Mr Stefaniak on this issue and indicated to him that, while we all share the goal he was looking for - the general fitness of students - the way he was going about it was not necessarily the best way. Involving the ACT P and C, the teachers and the students, and the process that has now been developed, will enhance what we are trying to achieve, and we will see the development of further fitness for our students. That being the case, I think the process, which I will be monitoring, will turn out to be a very good one.

MS McRAE (12.25), in reply: I thank members for their contributions. The irony of the situation is that what the Minister has announced today is exactly what the P and C Council wanted, and it did not happen from the very beginning. I have a letter dated 10 August, written to a school, which says, amongst many other things:

To this end, all secondary schools will be required to provide a minimum of 100 minutes of physical education and 100 minutes of timetable sport per week for all students in Years 7 to 10 from the start of the 1996 school year.

Is this an option? Is this a discussion? Is this a round table? Is this a fair discussion of the issues before us? No, it is a directive - a directive that this will happen beginning in the year 1996. I had to put the motion on just to get this debate up, to bring the concerns together. It is my public role to ensure that the concerns that are in the community are raised at a public level. All the community discussion we had, all this consultation that is supposed to have occurred, resulted in a letter written on 10 August saying, “You will do 100 minutes of sport and 100 minutes of PE at the beginning of the year 1996”.

Is that the outcome we want? How do we know that these 200 minutes are going to make fat girls fitter? We do not. How do we know that we are offering a fair alternative to children who want to do languages, maths, science, English - who want their full choice of subjects? I know, having lived the life I have, that fitness and physical health are crucial elements of one’s life. I have brought up three sons and I know about these issues as well as anyone else. I do not need 500 million reports, as no-one else does. But what I do know is that you do not ram through a solution before you know what the specific problem is. This solution says, “You will do 200 minutes of sport in Years 9 and 10”. Anybody who has had a child going through Years 9 and 10 knows how crucial those years are, what sorts of choices there are, what sorts of things happen to those children. Anyone who has had a 30 kilogram-boy going through school with a 120 kilogram-boy knows what ridicule those boys go through.

How dare we come through with a solution and then come into the chamber and say, “We are going to put up options. We are going to have a round table. We are going to discuss it further.”! Why do we discuss it further today? Only because finally enough people are saying, “Hang on a minute; we are talking about children's lives”. Of course we want them fit.

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