Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 543 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
Mr Speaker, I do, however, want to signal a general concern about the current state of legislation which underpins the provision of government schooling particularly, but also non-government schooling, in the Territory. My understanding is that we have two pieces of legislation - the Schools Authority Act 1976 and the Education Act, which I understand is the New South Wales Education Act from around the 1930s. Clearly, these two pieces of legislation are quite old. The Education Act is of considerable age, from a very different time indeed, and the Schools Authority Act is from the 1970s, when the provision of education services in the Territory was very much on the leading edge.
However, since that time, we have had no real review or examination of whether or not that is an acceptable basis on which to continue providing education services in the Territory and, indeed, to make sure that we are providing education services that are still very much at the leading edge of education philosophy. So, Mr Speaker, I do welcome the Minister's announcement in his tabling speech in relation to this Bill, where he did indicate that the Government was intending to undertake a review of education legislation in the Territory. This, he reminded the Assembly, was a commitment of his Government during the election campaign. Mr Speaker, it was certainly also a commitment from the Labor Party that such a review was not only desirable, but indeed quite necessary.
Many things have changed in education philosophy, in the practice of teaching and how we can best educate young people in our community. For that reason, it is indeed appropriate that we now enter into a review process. So, I welcome the Government's commitment to do that. It is concerning, however, that we have reached a stage where we need to be making some piecemeal changes to Acts just because bits have become redundant. Perhaps Mr Moore's pointing out to the Government last year that parts of the Schools Authority Act were redundant has prompted the Government to undertake this review process. Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will be supporting this Bill. We look forward to examining closely the operation and the outcome of the review of education legislation in the Territory.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.44): Mr Speaker, when I raised this issue in the estimates process last year, I was hoping that it would bring about a review; but I suppose that I was also hoping that the review would include this part of the legislation, rather than our having to do this first. On the other hand, I can understand Mr Stefaniak's approach. You will remember that this certainly went through Cabinet before I was a member of Cabinet. The issue I had raised with Mr Stefaniak was that he had a piece of legislation that he was not abiding by in the last Assembly. So, it is appropriate that he should move as quickly as possible, as the Minister, to ensure that either he comes to the Assembly to change the legislation or he abides by the legislation that is in front of him. This does deal with stage one.
It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that it is important to remember that the council of the Schools Authority, which was abolished in 1987, was not an advisory body at all; but it was, in fact, a very powerful body that made decisions on education. I suppose that it could have been regarded as a school board for the whole of the education system. This legislation removes that board, which was not an advisory board but a powerful body, as I say.