Page 4121 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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MS GALLAGHER: Was this the question that you scribbled down, Mrs Dunne, and passed to the person with the microphone in the audience—the “anonymous” question from Mrs Dunne? “I’ll scribble one down now, hand it to the person with the roving mike, get them to ask the minister this question and then later in question time I’ll use this—

Mr Stanhope: Based on feminine intuition, of course: “I’m not writing this as a member of the Liberal Party; I’m writing this through my feminine intuition.”

Mrs Dunne: Tell us about the building.


MS GALLAGHER: We have discussed the government’s position on this a number of times and I welcome the opportunity to talk about it again. Here we have a situation where, for the first time in the ACT government’s history, a government has recognised issues at a school and, instead of closing the school, walking away and saying, “Good luck to you out there in west Belconnen; you’re all obviously going to schools other than this school,” we have said: “We will build you the best school. We will put $43 million into building the best government school.” We have said to the students at west Belconnen, “You deserve the same kind of school that the kids at Radford have. You deserve the best school. We will give $43 million to build you the best school, and that school building will far exceed the standard of the school buildings that are out there at the moment.”

The discussion that Mrs Dunne alludes to about the fact that I walked around the school is true in the context of explaining the work that the government has done since then. In November, I was invited out to the school and taken on a tour of the school by the principal—and I did think the school was run down. I do not know whether you, Mrs Dunne, have had the opportunity to go out to the school; but I would be surprised if you could walk around that school and say that it was not run down, just based on your intuition—looking at the building—

Mr Stanhope: Based on your intuition and your eyesight!

MS GALLAGHER: It was not possible for a large school built for 1,000 but now with 180 students—a student population of under 20 per cent of what the school was built for—to maintain that school and adhere to the standards required in relation to safety and all the other measures that schools need to do. There is no doubt that that school was not able to keep the facilities up to the standard required; there is no doubt in my mind about that. Anyone walking through that school who says anything different obviously does not—

Mr Corbell: They’re using their intuition.

MS GALLAGHER: That’s right. We are currently going through a six-month consultation period on the proposal the government has put on the table. In the last couple of months, as we have been able to talk with the community and explain the proposal and answer the questions that the community has, the view out there in the

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