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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 April 2008) . . Page.. 864 ..

Mr Pratt: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. The question was: why did it take you several weeks after that violent attack to get police involved in the Safe Schools Taskforce? Are you going to answer that?

MR BARR: There were two parts to your question, Mr Pratt. I have just answered the first part and put that one to bed.

Mr Pratt: Yes, but they are both supposed to be relevant. Both parts need to be relevant.

MR BARR: Indeed. I have five minutes to answer it, Mr Pratt—

Mr Pratt: Both parts!

MR BARR: So, if you would just let me finish, on the second point let me make this clear: 12 months ago we established the Safe Schools Taskforce, and on that task force ACT Policing were involved and they sent representatives to the monthly meetings. But, through the development of the policies and on the recommendation of the task force, last month I formally asked for a more senior AFP involvement, ACT Policing involvement, in the task force and for them to move from an ex-officio capacity, where they were attending the monthly meetings, to have a formal role. Twelve months ago this started.

The thing that gets me about the opposition’s position is that they were asking questions about this last year in estimates, yet they seem to have forgotten all of the questions they were asking then and have now decided that this is a new initiative. No, it has been going for more than a year. You were asking questions about it last year. So to suggest that this is a knee-jerk response from the ACT government is again a ridiculous assertion from an opposition that have done no research on this issue. When they change portfolio spokespersons, they do not communicate with each other; that is fundamentally clear, and we have seen this time and time again. They have had so many different education spokespersons; between the three, between Pratty, Mrs Dunne and now the new spokesperson, if and when he pops his head up, which he is doing this week, which is good to see—it is good to see he is engaging in the education debate finally—

Mr Corbell: He is on duty, is he?

MR BARR: He is on duty; he has stopped taking his Zs and he is on duty now. It is good to see. But, fundamentally, the government undertook this work a year ago. Who did we involve? We involved parents, we involved teachers, we involved the police, we involved the education department and we involved mental health providers and a range of other people who had a stake in ensuring that we have safe school environments. As a result of this work, we have in place new policies regarding a safe school framework preschool to year 12, new policies around countering bullying, harassment and violence in ACT schools, countering sexual harassment and countering racism.

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