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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 2001 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

guarantee to me that they will provide for the students for two years free bus services to whichever school they amalgamate with, and also cover any outgoings that the families will need to spend in changing schools, I am prepared to support it on this issue. I will do so if they can stand up and guarantee me that in this house.

MR MOORE (12.05): Mr Speaker, I would like to start my speech by saying how delightful it is to have students from the school in question here in the chamber today, because they can see how democracy works and they can see how democracy is working when it actually affects them. I think that is a great part of the learning process in terms of what they will be able to achieve themselves in future years. They would have observed Mr Osborne adding 400 to 230 with a little bit of difficulty, but I will say that Mr Osborne has been getting much better with his numbers daily since he has been in this house.

The real issue, Mr Speaker, starts with what has happened here. What has happened is that we have had declining enrolments. That has been flagged by quite a number of speakers. Also, we have had a series of actions by Labor in the past. Mr Wood was the Minister and he would know that this is an issue that I raised with him on a number of occasions. I asked what Labor was doing about trying to turn Charnwood High School around. He knows that I raised it not only with him but also with his department. I supported my former colleague, Ms Szuty, whose son was at the school last year and who raised this issue with him and the department a number of times last year. If my memory serves me correctly on this one, Mr Speaker, there were issues that I raised with Mr Wood, and sometimes issues that I raised with his department when I had a briefing there, and it may well be that I have confused the two.

Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that Labor knew that Charnwood High School was on the skids, that it needed some special injection or some special action to turn it around, and it is quite clear that the staff supplementation was simply not enough. It was not working. For Labor members to come into the chamber now and say, "Let us give a bit more supplementation and see what happens", clearly is not enough.

Mr Wood: Who provided that?

MR MOORE: Mr Wood interjects, "Who provided that?". I said yes, that staff supplementation was a step, but clearly it was not enough. It was not working; the school was not turning around. We now face certain choices and those choices have been flagged by the school, by the school board and by its special committee looking into these issues.

Last night we had a quite overwhelming reaction from the school staff. They said, "No, we really do not want this to close after all". Why would they suddenly react that way? Well, the writing is clearly on the wall. Perhaps this is the first time that anybody has been open with the school and said, "The writing is on the wall. You have to face it. You have reached a point at which you are effectively going to close. The only viable options left for you that do not undermine other schools in some way are either closure or amalgamation, which effectively are the same thing for the school".

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