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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1843 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, the issue with Blue Gum School is that it believes that it is the department of education's responsibility to find it accommodation. Blue Gum is a private school and it is not the role of the department of education to find accommodation for any non-government school in the ACT, Blue Gum or otherwise. That is the view of the government and that was the view held by the previous government.

I have indicated to Blue Gum that I would be amenable to investigating its ability to use the old Griffith primary school site once the property is transferred to the land and property area of the Department of Urban Services, which is responsible for all unrequired land from line agencies. To facilitate this process, I have already provided Blue Gum with copies of the detailed assessment audit of that facility so that it can make judgments about whether it is financially and otherwise practical for it to use that facility.

Mr Speaker, if Blue Gum determines that it can use that facility, I will certainly, as Minister for Planning responsible for the land part of land and property, assist wherever I can to make sure that that process is worked through. But it needs to be done in a fair way and it is not appropriate simply to say that Blue Gum has the only potential call on that building. There may be other community organisations and non-government organisations that believe that the building would be suitable for their needs. That is why it is not appropriate for the department of education to facilitate this process, but it is for the government's surplus asset manager, land and property, to manage this process.

MR PRATT: I have a supplementary question. Minister, if these properties are best made available to schools, do you not understand the concerns therefore of the families of Blue Gum School which need to know now what their plans for schooling will have to be next year?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, it is not the responsibility of the ACT government to guarantee accommodation for private schools, in the same way as it is not the responsibility of the ACT government to guarantee accommodation for any other private organisation. As I have already indicated, it would be grossly unfair to say that Blue Gum is the only organisation that has a right to investigate and use the Griffith primary school and should be first in the queue.

For that reason and for the reasons I have just outlined, the government is embarking upon a fair process that allows Blue Gum as a private school, along with any other organisation that wants to use Griffith primary school, to be assessed on the basis of their capacity to use the facility, to pay for the use of the facility in terms of its maintenance and upkeep and to be suitable for that facility.

That is the process the government has embarked upon. There is no obligation on this government and there was none on previous governments to provide accommodation for private schools, but we will work with Blue Gum and any other community organisation interested in using that facility to make sure that they have all the relevant information to make judgments about whether they are capable of using that facility and to apply a fair process in determining who should be the tenant or tenants of that property once it is no longer used by the department of education.

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