Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1934 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
I think the issues around Quamby are so significant and so problematic that this Assembly needs a report, perhaps in the next sitting period, on the Government's response to the 27 recommendations - how it proposes to handle them and whether it accepts them all - and a statement about the changes that may be occurring and the future directions for Quamby. We get an awful lot of mush served up at times in ministerial statements. Some of them seem to be a lot of time-filling. I suggest to you, Minister, that this is one reason for a ministerial statement. I would urge that you do that in the next period so that this Assembly and the broader community can be apprised of what is going to happen there.
The other matter I want to raise is quite a different one. It relates to the education portfolio and the Jigsaw Theatre Co., a company particularly established to provide material to schools. It is not just to give schools a feel for drama and performance, but also to show a message in what they do. There is always sound material there. It is instructive in a very subtle and very effective way to students.
I can give the Minister the benefit of something like 15 years of performance review of Jigsaw from the time I first became acquainted with them as an officer in the then Schools Authority. In my time as a teacher I enlisted them to come to the school I was at, and from that time I was just a part of the audience. This is genuine. I am not just saying this because I am trying to help them or promote them. They do an excellent job. I have always been impressed when I have been to schools. I attend to what the performers are doing, but more than that I attend to what the children are doing. I watch the kids and that tells me. The kids are absorbed in the performances. They absorb what is happening and the messages that are there. Whether it is a message of nonviolence or a multicultural society or whatever, the message is always there. I can assure you that my very objective performance review is that they do an excellent job.
I told the Minister earlier that I wanted to raise this because of the problem they have. The department now is looking at the next contract, and that is fair enough. There is no argument about that and it will be making its own assessments, but in order to have a program up and running next year in the schools the company have to have that program into the schools between now and the end of the year. This is the time when they have to settle on the performances they are going to do. When schools are planning for next year they look at the competing bids coming in to them and decide. So, Jigsaw really needs to know fairly quickly what their future is, and that is the question I have asked the Minister. It is interesting to note that the schools, I think, are voting with their hands up. They seem to me to be still very fond of Jigsaw, and for that reason I think they deserve support. I hope the Minister is able to do something about that.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (5.53): I rise to make a very small contribution in relation to the sport aspects of the Minister's portfolio. My colleagues have covered very well aspects going to education and some of the Minister's other responsibilities. Mr Quinlan did address some issues in relation to sport. One area that I feel continues to be underrepresented in terms of attention by the Government is the area of women in sport, and I would like to address that very briefly.