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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 558 ..

MR CORBELL: No. The government did not mislead the community in the lead-up to the last election. There was a reduction in retention rates shown in the last available ABS statistics on the issue. In no way did the government mislead the community. On the best available data at that time, there was a reduction in retention rates, as you well know, Mr Stefaniak.

Mr Speaker, quite clearly there has now been an increase in retention rates. This shows two things. Firstly, retention rates have traditionally been higher in the ACT than in other jurisdictions. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is now a significant variation between years on the retention rate level. I think a closer look is required at the factors driving the differences in the two figures. There is now a significant variation between the figures just released by the ABS and the previous figures released by that organisation.

I have made a request to my department for more advice in relation to that variation, to try to gain a better understanding. This government is interested in gaining a better understanding of what is happening in relation to overall retention rates. There is a clear difference between a reduction and an increase. Why are we seeing this variation? Why are we seeing this occurring over such a short period of time? These are the issues we need to be looking at.

Political activity in school grounds

MR CORNWELL: My question is to Mr Corbell as education minister. Recently the Marxist oriented socialist youth group, Resistance, which promotes civil disobedience and a call to school children to leave school and join them in political action, was allowed to stand in school grounds and hand out this wretched pamphlet-a very negative one, I might add. I seek leave to table that.

Leave granted.

MR CORNWELL: I present the following paper:

"Resist"-Copy of publication of Resistance, socialist youth organisation.

Mr Stanhope We would like Mr Cornwell to disseminate their information. Are you on a retainer?

MR CORNWELL: I will translate for you. Minister, why was this group allowed to carry out its activities in school grounds, the sort of political activity that may be allowed and tolerated in universities and carried out by young adults but is totally unacceptable in the precincts of schools?

MR CORBELL: The first question that Mr Cornwell needs to address is: when were people in school grounds? Were they in school grounds during teaching hours? Were they in school grounds prior to school operating? I think that is the first thing that we need to be clear about, because there is legislation around as to when people can be on school grounds and those sorts of issues. So I certainly welcome Mr Cornwell's advice on those matters.

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