Page 900 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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A couple of other programs came in around that time, Mr Barr, which cost virtually nothing in terms of running a decent education system—for example, programs such as 150 minutes of compulsory physical activity for kindergarten to year 10. The first year of operation of that was 1997. There were a few things around that time—other than computers, which cost a lot of money—which stopped a drift.

It then continued in later years, has accelerated in a very big way under your government, and continues to occur, despite your much trumpeted $350 million investment, which is in fact a smokescreen, to try to cover up for the appalling arrogance and lack of consultation that you engaged in; the way you conned the ACT community in 2004 into thinking you were not going to make any wholesale school closures; how you continued that con up until about April 2006, and then hit them with that horrible whammy—and that unnecessary whammy, we have heard; that panic whammy—in the 2006 budget on the basis, “Oh, we are in great financial strife.” But we were not. It shows what brilliant economic managers you are, because we were not in any great economic strife, and future figures have borne that out. In fact, you continue to have more money coming in than you actually anticipated. So that was an absolute furphy and that has caused huge angst indeed.

Mr Seselja’s motion is a very sensible one. We pointed out back in December 2006 how we would fix it up, reinstate some of these schools and end the mess that you have created. I see that has pretty well been incorporated into the motion, which I would commend to the Assembly.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (5.31): I draw members’ attention to the Hansard, week 10, 26 August 2004. We had a question without notice from Ms Dundas, a member of this place at that time, to the then education minister, Ms Gallagher, on school closures. To part of that question, the minister’s answer was:

The Education Act sets out a very clear process for the closure or amalgamation of any schools, which we have all signed up to this year.

That was 2004.

The government has no plans to close any schools. In fact, the only situation I have dealt with in terms of closing schools was, as members would know, to do with the suspension or closure of some preschools, which I put off until the strategic plan is put out and we have some more community consultation.

There are some small schools out there. I think of Narrabundah school as an example of a small school. It would never be a viable candidate for closure.

I repeat that: “It would never be a viable candidate for closure.”

Mr Seselja: It was a candidate.

MRS BURKE: Indeed it was a candidate. She continued:

There is a whole range of other services coming into that school. It runs Kootara Well; it has a GP coming there; it has a breakfast program; it has families in

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