Page 3535 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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the only model that should be considered. I have talked with a number of people and I have not yet heard clear arguments as to why other models are not worthy of consideration. I am yet to see a substantial body of evidence in support of this model.

In the various briefings and consultations I have had, I have heard that the rationale for the proposed superschool in Ginninderra is based almost entirely on the success of the school at Amaroo. The school at Amaroo is undoubtedly a wonderful place physically. It is relatively new, it is a school of its times and it is located in a newly established community. Unlike the proposed school for Ginninderra, it did not replace existing schools and it does not yet cater to the full range of students from P to 10. It is very hard to evaluate its success educationally. I am sure that, like public schools in the ACT, the outcomes will be good, but whether they will be better and on what criteria we will make that decision are not yet clear.

It seems clear to me that the issues in west Belconnen could be quite different—they are different—and that the community is well placed to articulate these differences if the government is willing to listen to those things that do not agree with its own view on this matter. I find it quite mystifying that the government is willing to risk its credibility and its relationship with the community by doggedly refusing to develop and consider alternatives or provide the community will the full base of evidence for its decision to propose a P to 10 model.

I understand that the government is not inclined to support this motion and I think that that is a shame. The government would gain by allowing the inquiry to go ahead. The community would see that the government is prepared for the Assembly to look at the evidence in a transparent way and in a way that can engage stakeholders in the process. Parents, teachers and students would have a proper opportunity to give voice to their concerns, to their commendations, to their needs, to their preferences and perhaps to their gratitude. This would ensure that all of the issues in evidence for and against the proposal were put on the record.

If the P to 10 model had clear advantages over any alternative, that would be bound to be the conclusion of the inquiry. If the government is confident that its decision is rationally based, it has nothing to fear from such an inquiry. I also believe that it is reasonable to have a full and proper process before the government invests $43 million in new school infrastructure. This is a substantial investment and any non-profit or corporate agency spending this kind of money would take a great deal of care and might be expected to invest considerable time and money in its decision-making process.

I anticipate that one of the government’s reasons for not supporting this motion will be that it would delay the construction of the new school. If I were not aware of the election cycle, as pointed out by Mrs Dunne, I would be perplexed at the government’s insistence that the new school be completed by 2009, come what may, even if that means ignoring calls from the community to slow down and consult, or ignoring their own research that indicates that Higgins might be a better site for the new school if a 12-month delay is accommodated.

Just because Mr Stanhope brought it up, I did see an article in today’s paper that indicates that Cardinal Pell is making similar points about education to those made by Mrs Dunne.

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