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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2083 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Northern Territory delegates - I know that Steve Hatton used to be a Minister for education; we used to go to MCEETYA meetings together - Nicholls is one of our newer schools. It is in one of the few growing areas in Canberra - the rapidly growing area of Gungahlin - and there is a local Catholic school at one end of the complex and a state primary school at the other end. They share common facilities. They share a library, they share the ovals, and they share a number of other facilities.

Mr Moore: A gym.

MR STEFANIAK: A gym, yes, thank you, Mr Moore, and a canteen. It works very well. It is a system that works well.

Mr Moore: Mr Corbell should go and have a look. I will give him a tour.

MR STEFANIAK: Shut up, Mr Moore! I hate to say that to one of my own colleagues. I think there is some other potential there that can be explored because Nicholls has worked very well. Another thing that could be looked at along the Nicholls model is whether there are some buildings existing in Canberra where a Catholic primary school and a government primary school could share facilities. There is a number of areas where I would see great chances for cooperation, great chances for cutting down on some overheads, and some important educational experiences for the children in both sectors. It is certainly something worth exploring.

I am not quite sure that I remember exactly what Mr Moore was saying back in October; but, if he thought that both systems should merge totally, I would expect significant opposition to that from both sectors, as I think happened when the idea of increased cooperation was expressed by a number of players back then. I would not think that that would have changed. I think the terms of reference involved considering closer cooperation or something along those lines. Certainly, I think that, as a result of the experience we have had at Nicholls and in a number of other areas, we should explore closer cooperation. There is a lot of potential for that. In that respect, I think the idea of closer cooperation is something very much worthy of being looked at.

MR OSBORNE: You had your chance there, Minister! At the time of his announcement last year, Mr Moore stated in the Canberra Times that "it was no longer feasible to consider individual rights of parents in respect of the education of their children in isolation from broader considerations of public interest and the welfare of children in all schools". Does the Minister for Education agree with that statement?

MR STEFANIAK: I do not know whether Mr Moore made it, but - - -

Mr Osborne: I have the quote from the Canberra Times, if he would like me to table it, Mr Speaker; so, it is definitely true.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Minister, you do not have to answer that question. It is an expression of opinion.

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