Page 3133 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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unhappy about this process. If we had a proper process we still might decide that the school should close and decide to build a $43 million megaschool. Instead of saying that all the decisions are made upfront and it is a take it or leave it thing, why do we not have a proper consultation? Why do we not acknowledge that this government has failed to consult properly?

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.52): This debate has been narrowed to one about whether to close this school, yet it should be about what are the best educational outcomes for west Belconnen. We keep hearing that there are good reasons for closing this school and building a new school. I know that the government likes big things, but I will put that aside. I am not saying that a megaschool with small campuses—as we keep hearing, the emphasis now is on small within big—would not be good. It could be good. The real question is: what are the best educational outcomes for west Belconnen?

I want to know why the government continually compares itself, as Mr Corbell just did, with what it sees as the worst practice in consultation—we keep hearing about Charnwood high—to justify its own poor practice. We should be comparing ourselves with best practice. We should be looking to what it is. We have a community engagement protocol, for goodness sake. I am just very concerned that the government has, as it so often does, shut its ears.

Is the government afraid of meaningful consultation? What would have happened if we had gone to those students and said, “Do you think students should be paid to go to school?” Such an exercise has shown up in the literature time and again: de Bono did it when he took one to students. We would probably all say, straight off the top of our heads, that if we had gone to those students and asked them, they would all have said that they should be paid to go to school. But what happens if they are given the best information about the ramifications of that? They have brains, they are coming out of a good education system, they can think logically, they can put two and two together.

When De Bono did this exercise, the students decided that it was not a good idea to pay students to go to school. The government would like that. We cannot afford to pay them to go to school. We have to make school pleasant so that they go there. We have to make sure that they are part of the decision making so that they feel that school is theirs. We set up student representative committees. We need to talk to them. Are these things pretend?

We have heard from Ms Gallagher about secret stuff, data that we are not allowed to look at and that was persuasive enough for the government to decide that its option is the best one. I say that there should not be any secret data. I do not want to hear individual stuff, but if it is demographic data that says—

Ms Gallagher: That is not what I am talking about.

DR FOSKEY: No, you can talk about it later. I understand that there are things that we do not need to know, but I think that as much as possible should be on the table, although nothing personal.

Ms Gallagher: That is what I have said.

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