Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 August 2005) . . Page.. 3132 ..
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.48): I move the amendment to Ms Gallagher’s amendment circulated in my name:
“(g) that the ACT Government’s ‘extensive process of community consultation’—due to conclude in December 2005—was undertaken only after the Government had already made a decision to close the Ginninderra District High School.”.
Ms Gallagher has done what government members always do on private members day. Instead of having the intestinal fortitude to just vote down things they do not like, they rip the heart out of them and create a psalm to themselves, saying how wonderful they are. This motion as originally moved was to draw attention to the failure of the government to adequately consult before decisions were made. The amendment I propose adds an extra paragraph to Ms Gallagher’s motion. It says:
that the ACT government’s ‘extensive process of community consultation’—due to conclude in December 2005—was undertaken only after the Government had already made a decision to close the Ginninderra District High School.
Mr Corbell said in his speech, “What would we do?” As we have been saying consistently, as Dr Foskey has said in here today, as I have said consistently since the outset and as the bill I moved earlier today indicates, we would first of all take the community into our confidence and listen to them. Rather than having this forced consultation where the outcome is predetermined, we would have taken the community into our confidence. Mr Stefaniak spoke about the guidelines, which were done away with, that existed under the previous government until the Education Act 2004 was implemented and about how you would undertake consultation on how to deal with schools with falling enrolments.
Members of the Ginninderra district high school board have told me that on a number of occasions they have started that process, that they have looked at the process and said, “Do we need to do anything? Do we need to start this process?” I have been told they decided that they did not have to do anything because the advice the community received in August 2004 from the department was that there would be no closures of schools. On the basis of that advice, given by a spokesman for the minister, they did not go ahead with any part of the process because they found it was not the time to do it.
Mr Corbell asked what we would have done. First of all we would have done something to find out why a large proportion of the people in the area are leaving the community, turning their back on that community school and going to other schools. We would have taken the community into our confidence. Today we need to clearly acknowledge that this government has failed to do that. The only person on the Labor benches who has acted honourably on this is you, Mr Speaker. You have had the courage to stand up and speak openly about the trouble this has caused.
I hope Ms Porter has something to say here because, at the moment, she gives the impression that she is nothing more than a marionette whose strings are pulled by a minister and says what they want her to say. I would really like to see Ms Porter stand up here today in support of the people in her electorate in west Belconnen who are