Page 2717 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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MS GALLAGHER: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. The demographic data that we have on the high school is that there are around 936 government high school students in the catchment area for Ginninderra high school, of which only a very small proportion, around 20 per cent, are attending the local high school. The demographic data is there to support the enrolment of cohort students, with 100 in the preschool, around 408 in the primary school, around another 400 in the middle school and a smaller number for the secondary component of the years 9 and 10 school. This data is projected. We have the enrolment data there.

As the government has made it clear, this will mean the closure of Ginninderra district high as it is, if this proposal is supported, along with the two preschools at Holt and Higgins and the feeder primary schools at Holt and Higgins. Based on our data, they are the schools that will be impacted most severely by this proposal and would ultimately require their closure should the new school be built, as the government has proposed.

Of course, there is further development in Holt that is planned and the development in the Molonglo Valley, and all the demographic data that we can use and project into the future has been used in those projections. But we are currently putting together a whole range of information to provide to the community, as was requested at a public meeting I attended in July. We are happy to make that information available. We are in the process of putting it all together, answering some extensive questions from individual community members at the public meeting that night and requests for information that the P&C has now requested of the government. The numbers are there. It is clear that we can support a school of this size in that area. We are happy to provide that information to the community.

DR FOSKEY: Can the government guarantee that there will not be other school closures in the west Belconnen area as a result of this school?

MS GALLAGHER: I don’t think any government can guarantee that there won’t be any school closures anywhere. I think it would be disingenuous of me to stand here and say that that would be the case. I have always been clear that the issue of projected enrolments, the cohorts of students, the declining number of students and the increasing number of schools will mean that this issue will need to be looked at by any person that is in my job. If Mrs Dunne is ever lucky enough to hold my position, this will be an issue that she will have to deal with. Whilst it would probably be easier for me to say, “Yes, I can rule out any further school closures,” that would not be the case.

I know there has been some misinformation put around, particularly by the opposition, that other school closures are planned—other primary schools in that area and other high schools in that area. Unfortunately, it has caused a whole load of community anxiety around those schools when our information is clear: the planned school will not result in the closure of the number of schools that have been listed in opposition media releases, such as, I think, Latham, Fraser, Melba, causing all the parents, students and teachers who are currently at those schools enormous concern. That is not the government’s decision; it was not what this decision was based on.

I can’t sit here and say there won’t be any further closures of schools in west Belconnen. Certainly, on the information that we have available to us, if this proposal goes ahead, it

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