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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 3141 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

kids. After all, the prime aim of our schools is to make sure that they get quality education.

To go back to my original point: this is about offering the government an opportunity to come up with a negotiated arrangement with possible tenderers, which produces a better consultative phase and allows people into the whole process. Of course, ideologues in the government ranks say, "We will make the decisions here. We will just put out the tenders and they can like it or lump it." I do not think that is the way to go.

In my view, it should have been worked out in the first place, and we should not need to go through this process. There should have been a process of engagement, so that we did not have this tension over what is a pretty basic issue for the development of a civil society, that is, a decent level of health and fitness and knowledge about it.

However, I think the government will say, "We will have to reissue the tenders if we go ahead with this information." If that is the government view, they can go and reissue the tenders. That is fine. It is up to them, and it would not bother me at all, because it would then mean that there should be a process of engagement involving the community to come up with a sensible outcome. However, if they want to be a little flexible and support this sort of amendment, it gives them the chance to at least negotiate with tenderers and come up with a more satisfactory result for everybody involved in the process.

Frankly, if the government and this Assembly are not minded to do something about what is a point of tension in the education community, I think that would be a shame, on top of the fact that it has been created by the lack of involvement of the community in the issue. These amendments merely offer an opportunity for the government to provide a circuit-breaker in the process. If the government wants to maintain its position and say, "If we go back to this process, we will have to re-tender it," I will be relaxed about it.

If this Assembly supported the involvement of the community in the development of these standards and the implementation and monitoring of them, and particularly if the quality issues were all sorted out in the process, I would be happy if the government went back and re-tendered it, to be frank. I think these amendments would give them the opportunity to negotiate around it, keep the process going, get the health and fitness program into our schools and, at the same time, deal with some of those issues that affect the schools community.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (11.55): Mr Speaker, I will try to speak to both members' points. I was amazed to see this motion to start with, especially after the debates in relation to tender processes, Bruce Stadium and such. I will say that Mr Berry's amendment is better than the original motion. He is right, there are still problems with that. However, the original motion virtually directs me, as minister, to interfere in a tender process that has started, and where people have actually put in tender documents. I am aware that some 16 tender documents actually went out to people, and the tender process actually closes next week. I understand the tender process has been going for some weeks.

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