Page 3921 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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Theatre. In just its second year, Step into the Limelight has already become a major fixture in the calendars of aspiring artists in our schools.

The people of Canberra have very enthusiastically supported this event. The show saw students from primary schools, high schools and colleges putting on an array of acts, including the performing visual and dramatic arts, and they also created artwork for the event and played a key role in staging the event. Last night’s event was a tremendous success due, in no small part, to the hard work and very dedicated team within the Department of Education and Training and our schools.

What was disappointing about last night, though, was the refusal of the Liberal opposition to grant me a pair to attend the event. Fortunately, I had leave from the government whip to be able to attend the event, so it is very disappointing that the Leader of the Opposition decided to put out what can only be described as the most petty media release we have seen in this term of government, accusing me of being out to dinner when, in fact, I was out supporting the hard work of thousands of students in our public education system for their showcase performing arts event of the year. That is an event that I host as Minister for Education and Training.

For the Leader of the Opposition—the laziest and most conservative politician in this chamber—to accuse me of being out to dinner is a very poor reflection on where the Leader of the Opposition is at. It comes as no surprise, though, that the Leader of the Opposition has resorted to these sorts of tactics. One only has to read today’s Crikey, which indicates from an insider in the Liberal Party that the former Liberal Chief Minister, Kate Carnell, has put her hand up to run for Bill Stefaniak’s just-vacated seat of Ginninderra, but the catch is that she will only do it if she is made leader. So, Mr Seselja, who is already reeling over Mr Stefaniak’s departure, has been blindsided by this particular move.

Who would have thought yesterday that, when I observed that Zed Seselja was no Kate Carnell, because he was the most conservative Liberal leader in the country, the most conservative person ever to sit in that chair, that the Liberals were looking to bring back Kate Carnell. Hey presto—the next day we hear she is running for Ginninderra, but only if she can be leader.

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I thought the question was about education. I did not realise it was—

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! It is hard to make out what anybody is saying with all of the yelling across the chamber. Now, back to the question, Mr Barr, please.

MR BARR: In terms of performing arts, it is important to note that performing arts are occurring over on the Liberal side of this chamber. The leadership of the Liberal Party is now back in the picture with Kate Carnell, backed by Jim Murphy, throwing her hat back into the ring, but only if she can be leader. It would seem that this is all about resolving—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Barr. Come back to the subject matter of the question.

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