Page 2602 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 July 2008

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Mrs Burke: So nobody else can access them.

MR BARR: At this point there has only been one application received from a non-government school to register an additional campus in the area and to seek to occupy—

Mrs Burke: That is so inflexible and silly, it’s not true.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Burke, I warn you.

MR BARR: There has only been one application received from a non-government school to seek to occupy a former government school site. I understand that the Catholic Education Office has expressed interest in locating a new Catholic primary school in the suburb of Harrison. That is a growth area where there is, indeed, demand for an additional education facility. That piece of land has been planned for a non-government school, and the Catholic Education Office is expressing interest. That is an appropriate growth in non-government schooling in the ACT.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question from Mr Stefaniak.

MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, minister. You have indicated at least one skill, then. How do you explain the interest by that non-government school sector in reopening the schools you have closed when the basis for closing them in the first place was based on their being deemed inefficient? Incidentally, I am aware of a couple more instances, too.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The nature of the application from the Emmaus school is simply for an additional campus. That is in terms of reducing their own costs, as they did with their current campus in Dickson, which used to be St Brigid’s Catholic primary school which—surprise, surprise—closed. Schools close from time to time. Then, a number of years later, that school became the Emmaus Christian School. So it went from one non-government school to another, just as one of my old schools, the AME School, closed and is now the home of the Orana School.

From time to time within the non-government sector schools will close and new ones will reopen. The government has a process, a very clear legislative process, for assessing applications for new non-government schools. At this point, whilst there has been some interest from Emmaus for a small additional campus, I have met with them and indicated the government’s preference for them to consider sites in Gungahlin or Molonglo for any expansion. I think that is appropriate. That is where there is growth in student demand and we can certainly expect, in the next 10 to 15 years, an increase in the school age population in those parts of Canberra, whereas in other parts of the city it is clear that student populations will continue to decline.

Health—organ donation

MS MacDONALD: My question through you, Mr Speaker, is to Ms Gallagher in her capacity as Minister for Health. My question is: minister, could you update the Assembly on the Australian government’s announcement of a new funding package to encourage organ donation and what this means for the ACT?

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