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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 April 2008) . . Page.. 845 ..


impression that had been given by Ms Gallagher’s office that they would not close any schools in the next term of government. I am pleased that Ms Gallagher, even with all of the falsifications that have been put on it, has finally acknowledged our argument that the people of the ACT were misled. They were misled by the statements of this government. The 23 school closures that will occur by the end of this year are a direct betrayal of the promise that was made to the people of the ACT.

Ms Gallagher can say they never had any plans at that stage. It is interesting that you go to the election and you say, “We will not close any schools in the next term of government,” and then, by November, one month after the election, that is when the plan forms. That is when the plan to start closing schools forms.

It is outrageous that Ms Gallagher, having been the minister for two years, is able to say to us, “No, we did not have any plans. We said we would not close any schools in the next four years.” But a month later she was prepared to throw that promise out the window; she was prepared to betray the trust of the people of the ACT who had voted in a Labor government, partly, I am sure, as a result of their education policies and their education promises, none of which can ever be trusted again. Ms Gallagher has finally, in her own way, acknowledged that this government misled the people of the ACT on school closures. I think that is a step in the right direction and a step forward.

But Ms Gallagher should go further and say, “Actually it was not a mistake. It was not a mistake not to retract it. It was deliberate.” We know it was deliberate because the perception was perpetuated by the subsequent statements by Ms Gallagher, including three days out from the ACT election, where the perception she wanted out there was that a vote for the Liberals was a vote for school closures, and a vote for the Labor Party was a vote against school closures. That is the perception. That comes from the statements made by her spokesman. That was never repudiated.

I am grateful that Ms Gallagher has at least partially admitted the truth of that, but it is outrageous that she tells us now that there were no plans until just after the election, after an election where they promised not to close any schools. But in November of 2004, they decided that that promise was worth nothing; they decided that that promise was expendable because they now had a plan to close schools. It was only one school at that time, but we know now that the subsequent plan to close 39 schools, which led to the closure of 23 schools, was a direct betrayal of the community and a direct breach of the promise that was made and never, ever repudiated by Ms Gallagher.

I am grateful that she has finally acknowledged that in part. I think she should go further and acknowledge the truth of the situation. But she was very happy for that statement to lie there; she was very happy for that statement to stay on the record so that the perception could be created. It was a false perception, it was a betrayal and it is a fundamental breach of faith with the ACT community.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (12.16): This motion represents yet another example of the opposition’s preference for political point-scoring over substantive policy development. Time and time again those opposite have derided the government’s commitment to public education. I think “good money after bad” is the phrase that we


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