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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 14 February 2008) . . Page.. 269 ..

Leave granted.

MRS DUNNE: I table the following paper:

School closures—25 jobs to go and schools to close: Libs costings tell the story—Copy of media statement by Ms Gallagher, 13 October 2004.

Given that your government went on to announce 23 school closures after the election, when you said there would be none, will you now, in the face of overwhelming evidence, acknowledge that the community was misled by your government and your minister on the issue of school closures?

MR STANHOPE: No, I will not. I have answered this question. It is interesting how, stung into an acknowledgement that it was Liberal Party policy prior to the last election—indeed consistent with a press release released by Mr Pratt, which the minister was referring to, on that date in October that the member refers to in her question—the Liberal Party election position, expressed by Steve Pratt, that, yes, schools would have to close. That Liberal Party position is precisely the position that the minister stated, three days prior to the election. It is now raised in the question by Mrs Dunne as—shock, horror!—that the minister said, three days before the election, that it was actually the Liberal Party. Yes, that is true, true again; everything you say is true. That is true. It was the Liberal Party that said they would close schools.

Mrs Dunne: You never repudiated the comment “we won’t close schools”.

MR STANHOPE: It was the Liberal Party, who now, of course, ever since then—

Mrs Dunne: “We categorically rule out closing schools in the next term of the Stanhope government.”

MR STANHOPE: have tried to pretend that they will not ever close schools, and indeed we have the new Leader of the Opposition—

Mrs Dunne: Your spokesman said it.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Dunne! I’ve called you to order several times—no more.

MR STANHOPE: I think in his first interview post his accession to the leadership, insisting, “Well, yes, if we are elected next October, we will reopen schools.” Their education policy apparently consists of “Oh, well, we will consider opening some of the schools that were closed. We will give it serious consideration.” At this stage the only policy expression that we have from the Liberal Party in relation to education is “Oh, we will reopen some of the schools that the government has closed.” Despite, of course, this very clear expression that the Liberal Party intend to close schools, they will not accept or agree to the closure of any schools other than the ones that they themselves will close and their policy position in relation to education is actually to open schools which the government of the day has closed.

MR SPEAKER: Come back to the subject matter of the question. It was whether or not the community had been misled, so come back to it, please.

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