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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (24 October) . . Page.. 1927 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

It was interesting, Ms McRae, that the people at that meeting thought that the process they were going through would have been very sensible if they had done it about two years ago. They were somewhat critical of your Government for not letting that happen. The process, as I indicated, was a very healthy one, and there were very full discussions by the members there.

Mr Speaker, this Government is not supplementing, and I think Ms McRae would appreciate some of the reasons for that. If we continue to supplement where supplementation is not warranted, how can we supply teachers for new schools? Lanyon is coming on stream next year, and Nicholls High School in 1998. There are a number of primary schools coming on stream. It is quite clear that that is why supplementation cannot continue indefinitely.

Ms McRae: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I have asked a very specific question about one year and one option. I would ask you to ask the Minister to answer my question.

MR STEFANIAK: I thought I did.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Minister, would you mind answering Ms McRae's question.

MR STEFANIAK: One school is certainly coming on stream. Another high school is coming on stream next year, in 1996, for starters, and a further one in 1998. There are a number of primary schools also coming on stream. I think that provides a fairly clear answer to the member's question, Mr Speaker.

MS McRAE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Mr Stefaniak, given that the two options presented to members of the Charnwood High School community were to close the school or to amalgamate with Ginninderra High School, which will be discussed tonight on the Ginninderra High School site, both of which mean the closure of that high school at Charnwood, will you now confirm that it is your Government's policy to close schools?

MR STEFANIAK: I think our Government's policy is quite clear. The Chief Minister has stated it. I have stated it. Various members have stated it. Our policy is that we are not going to close schools without the consent of the school community. The main point of these consultations was to go through a whole series of options. I commend the Charnwood High School Board and the various people who were there when I attended that meeting, Mr Speaker, for their very detailed, very frank and very thorough examination of the issues. I think they were keeping in mind, unlike Ms McRae, the goal of the best possible educational outcome for their students. In terms of the two options which I understand they have put to their community, they have come up with them themselves. This Government has given an assurance that appropriate support will be available to support arrangements that provide a clear educational future for students in the area. The precise form and extent of this support will be decided on after the implementation team has drawn up a program to implement the decision when the school has actually made that decision.

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