Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 April 2008) . . Page.. 778 ..
The minister danced around the issue today as to the detail of how the kids would be treated in terms of possibly being relocated to the school hall for their classes. We have all of the issues that will surround the disruption of being on a building site prior to the Christmas holidays. The minister has not outlined how the disruption to the community will be minimised as a result of that, but we do know that this government was happy to have on the table these options, which can be seen in no other way than a heartless decision to cause disruption to the people of Lyons and the Lyons school community after having misled them at the last election.
We had the case of Jo, a single mother, who called into radio station MIX 106 today. She was misled by this government at the last election about their plans to close schools. Having been misled, she faced the prospect of having to move her child early to Yarralumla. She does not have a car and does not have the ability to drive them to Yarralumla. Now we know that that option has been taken off the table, but she still faces the prospect of her children being moved to the school hall to complete their classes. That has not been ruled out, and we know from the—
Mr Barr: I said that explicitly in question time.
MR SESELJA: Well, yesterday it was on the table, and in the media release there was nothing ruling it out. So now we have seen a move from yesterday in the Canberra Times, this morning’s press release and then this afternoon’s question time. This is how policy is being made in the minister’s office. He needs to clarify his statements, even those made in question time. How significant will their time be in the school hall? Was this proposal seriously on the table or was the department of education making misleading statements to members of the school community? The minister needs to clarify this. The government has acted in a heartless manner on this issue. (Time expired.)
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.50): Public education needs to be managed for a range of factors. Of course, there are the educational and, indeed, social outcomes for all students, whatever school or school system they go to. Another is for the changing number and mix of students who attend government schools, and yet another is the changing demands and expectations that we have of teachers and the strategies that have to be put in place if we are to attract teachers, maintain their professional development and keep them.
A strong, effective, inclusive public education system underpins our democracy, and our progress through the 19th and early 20th century in the development of Australia as a world-leading progressive, affluent democracy was the product of public education. Almost everyone in this room is here because they had a good education, some of us a public education. While it is easy to imagine the challenges of the 21st century are entirely different, the role of the public education system that addresses these challenges remains essential.
I want to quote something from Brian Caldwell who, in his turn, is paraphrasing the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, who was said to have asked this question: