Page 842 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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MRS DUNNE: Those denials went on and were capped off three days before the ACT election in 2004, when Ms Gallagher came out again and criticised Mr Pratt for daring to suggest that schools might close and said again that schools would not be closing. Her press release just before the election said again that schools would not be closing.

We add to this her failure back in August to set the record straight and we add to this that the same spokesman at the time of the closure of Ginninderra district high went to the Canberra Times again and said, “There will be no more school closures under this government.” I will give the minister leave to speak again, to stand up and say that that was a mistake and that she did not correct the record on that one. That was a statement made by the same senior adviser who, when I had the final briefing on the commencement of the Education Act at the beginning of 2005 and I asked him where in the regulations the process for consultation in relation to school closures was, told me, “They are not there and, Mrs Dunne, they will not be necessary because there will be no school closures.”

The Australian Education Union, the P & C association, who were the original architects of those regulations which Mr Stefaniak introduced and which were not translated into the new education bill, and I were told the same thing by that same employee of Ms Gallagher’s. We were told, “We do not need those guidelines because there will be no need to close schools. We will not be closing schools.”

Everything that this previous minister has done has been founded on a lie—a lie told to me, a lie told to the P & C association, a lie told to the wider ACT community—that there would not be school closures. This lie was perpetuated over and over and over again, including after the announcement on Ginninderra district high school when that same spokesman said, “There will be no more school closures.”

When is it that this former minister is actually going to come out and say, “We deceived the community time and time and time again”? That is what they did. This minister went to the last election with deception on her lips every day. She has been in this place when her successor and her Chief Minister have come in here and waved pieces of paper around time and time again trying to get her off the hook. I cannot remember the number of times that I have stood in this place and said that this minister never, ever, ever corrected the record. It is only today, years later, that, under considerable pressure, she said, “Oops. Perhaps I did make a mistake.” There were plenty of other mistakes.

I was at the first consultation meeting on Ginninderra district high when people asked you, “If the children are bypassing Ginninderra district high to go to other schools, will you find out why? Will you tell us why you are closing our school and why a school that is appealing to us is not appealing to other people?” To this day, that work has never been done. They do not know, apart from their gut-feeling indicators, why people were passing by Ginninderra district high.

Yes, it was rundown. I saw it. It was rundown. I visited the school. It was rundown and there should have been work done on it many years before. That is a failing of

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