Page 840 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Belconnen and their students. I note today in the motion from the Liberals that the west Belconnen school is the only school that they are not opposing.

It is interesting to note, though, that the Holt and Higgins primary schools at the time, I think, had about 150 or maybe 140 students enrolled in each of those schools. It is interesting to see now, in preparation for the new school opening in that area, that both of those primary schools have actually increased their enrolments over the last few years and now have primary school students in excess of 200.

I know this is uncomfortable for the Leader of the Opposition, because it actually does not fit with the arguments that they are putting forward, but that is the reality. We had a situation where we had a school where people were actively making a decision not to attend it. We took a decision on that, on investing in the future, to build a fantastic new school for the people of west Belconnen, the first new school in that area probably since the 1970s, I would say. What we see now is students returning and preparing to enrol in that fantastic new facility for next year. That is what this has been about from the beginning.

This government was clear before the election that the issue of dealing with the viability of our schools would have to be dealt with. I have said it on numerous occasions; I said it in here; I said it at education meetings in the lead-up to the election. I think Mr Pratt was the shadow minister then. He and I attended and I repeated it at all of those forums. I repeated it in the Canberra Times.

The issue, I think, which the opposition seem to be pinning their entire election campaign on is the unauthorised comment by a spokesperson from my office. I stand here today and I say, “If there was a mistake I made, it was not writing a letter to the Canberra Times, a letter to the editor, saying that was an unauthorised statement.” It was not in line with the statements I had made as minister the day before or the statements that I made after that time.

Mrs Dunne: What about the one the same person made at the time of the closing of Ginninderra district high?

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): Mrs Dunne, I warn you.

MS GALLAGHER: You guys win. I made a mistake. Okay? Everyone can hear it. I made a mistake; I did not correct the record, apart from correcting the record in about 50 different forums where I made it clear the government said we would need to deal with the issues of declining enrolments and school viability across the sector. It is in the Canberra Times on numerous times.

In fact, my chief of staff spoke and gave that comment in response to the Liberal proposal to close schools. This originated from Mr Pratt’s comments. The Liberals came out and said they would close schools. I can honestly stand here—and cabinet documents will prove that I am telling the truth—and state that at the time of going to the last election the government had no plans to close any schools.

I will tell you when that planning started. The planning started on 30 November 2004, when I went and visited the terrible facilities at west Belconnen, at Ginninderra

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .