Page 4122 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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community is that this proposal should go ahead. I have recently attended meetings with parent groups at both Holt and Higgins primary schools, and I would say the view shared—certainly from one of the meetings—was: “Knock down the high school now; build it tomorrow. We want our kids to go there. We want this best school in west Belconnen.” That is the view of the community. I am not saying that there are not elements in the community that do not share that view. It would be wrong to say that. There are, and we will work through the issues that those groups have. But for the large part the reception to the government’s proposal has been overwhelmingly positive.

There is no doubt in my mind that the school buildings were run down, but it was one element of some other issues existing at that school that required the government to make a response, and our response was: “We will build you the best school. We won’t walk away from you. We want the best school for your kids and we want it built as soon as we can build it.”

MRS DUNNE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. minister, why did you fail to take the community into your confidence about the quality of the building, about the standard of the building and about your aspirations for the best school in Canberra? Why did you not take the community into your confidence in the first place and consult with them about what they wanted to do with the building, rather than making the decision and imposing it upon them?

MS GALLAGHER: The government went to the community with this proposal two days after making a decision. Two days after the cabinet made a decision to go to the community with a proposal for a significant investment in school infrastructure in west Belconnen, that proposal was out there in the community for six months of discussion. That is taking the community into our confidence. Two days after considering a response to the issues we saw at Ginninderra district high school, we went to the community and, every single day since, we have been out there in the community, talking with the community about this proposal. I have met with the P&C, the save our schools group, the Holt and Higgins parents, the preschool society and the playgroup society throughout the consultation period. The government has not made a final decision on the proposal and will not be making a final decision until 20 January next year.

There have been shopping centre stalls set up at Kippax. I know members of the government hold regular community meetings with their constituents as an opportunity for information sharing. Every single request from the community for information that has come to my office or to the department has been answered—and will be answered throughout this consultation period. The government has taken the community into its confidence. We are talking at every opportunity with the community and we will continue to do that. I have had input in the last few days, with people wanting me to have a look at another aspect of the proposal—and we will continue to do that until the decision is made.

Emergency Services Authority—volunteers

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Mr Hargreaves. Minister, the ESA’s September quarterly report shows that volunteer recruitment is 26 per cent below target, with the explanation that this shortfall in recruitment is due to a lack of resources. Why does the ESA not have the resources to

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