Page 3136 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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As the minister for education has explained, the Chief Minister has explained and the planning minister has explained—I do not know how many more people need to explain this to members opposite—the campus will include four schools: a preschool, a primary school, a middle school and a high school. There will not be the huge megaschool, as those opposite and Dr Foskey seem to believe. All the claims about large schools hold no water at all.

The central plank of this proposal is, as other speakers have said before me, $43 million of investment in the Belconnen community, an investment in the future of our children. I have no reservations about this financial commitment because, unlike those opposite and those who preceded them as representatives of the ACT Liberal Party, I fundamentally believe in the role of government to deliver essential infrastructure and not simply pay lip service to long-term priorities in the secret hope that they will never actually have to deliver them.

This government is one of delivery. Under the Stanhope Labor government, this territory has seen an extra $100 million invested in public education. This government also has a proud history of public consultation before implementation of major community-based reforms and the proposal to rejuvenate Belconnen’s educational community is no different. We are commencing now a six-month process of communication with representative groups, peak bodies and individual stakeholders. Further to this, we have held and will hold more community consultation forums.

I have great faith in the community that I represent and I know that it will not be blinded by the scaremongering tactics of Mrs Dunne, who seeks only to hijack a public debate about educational outcomes for our children in search of a few political points. It was my belief when I came to this place that all of my colleagues, regardless of political affiliations, respected the great responsibilities which election held. Accordingly, I had hoped that, independent of the political games that inevitably get played in a place like this, representatives would always put the long-term welfare of their community above their desire for a political win. Perhaps I was naive.

In the past few weeks, watching Mrs Dunne’s populist crusade about this issue, I have been gravely disappointed. Mrs Dunne, I hasten to ask you whom you are actually representing in this place: your constituents or your own ambitions? It surprised me significantly that, up until now, we had not heard hide or hair of Mr Stefaniak. I was beginning to think that it was because Mr Stefaniak had recognised the value of the proposal. Mrs Dunne and Mr Stefaniak, are you interested in sound educational outcomes?

I can assure you that I do represent the people of Ginninderra, and I represent them in a majority government voted in by the ACT community. That is quite different from Mrs Dunne’s position. She was voted into opposition by the community not once but twice. Why is that, Mr Speaker? I see constant communication with my community as an integral part of my job and I have wholeheartedly committed myself since coming into this place. I have held mobile offices throughout the electorate at least weekly and I have met thousands of members of the community that I represent.

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