Page 196 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 10 December 2008

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I must say it was refreshing—and I think the first time, at least in eight years, or perhaps since Kate Carnell graced this place—to see, meet and hear a member of the Liberal Party espousing socially progressive views, convictions and values in Mr Hanson. I congratulate him. I think he is the first Liberal in eight years to stand in this place and publicly support a woman’s right to choice. I congratulate Mr Hanson on that, and welcome him most particularly to the progressives within the chamber—a true small “l” liberal in the Robert Menzies mould. I do hope that slight departure from support for gay and lesbians and the removal of discrimination for gay and lesbians that seemed to dissipate a bit between the chamber and the press gallery at lunchtime, as Mr Hanson made the long walk past his colleagues, ashen faced as they were at the prospect that one among them supported a woman’s right to choice, who dared to express support for gays and lesbians in this place, who dared to suggest—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Chief Minister, I think we’ve made a bad start on the new standing order.

MR STANHOPE: What new standing order?

MR SPEAKER: Section 118—directly relevant to the question.

MR STANHOPE: It was about socially progressive policy, Mr Speaker. I think if you look at the question, you will see that my comments are particularly relevant to the issue about this government’s support for socially progressive legislation. It is appropriate that I point to Mr Coe’s lack of support for anything that is apparently socially progressive and Mr Hanson’s quite explicit support for policies that actually would lead him to be most welcome within the Labor Party. (Time expired.)

Schools—Birrigai outdoor school

MS HUNTER: My question is to the minister for education and concerns the Birrigai outdoor school. Noting that the highly regarded Birrigai outdoor school and Tidbinbilla park were amalgamated this year and presently operate under a joint management model and that the position of principal at the Birrigai outdoor school is being advertised as a manager, to be supervised by the general manager at Tidbinbilla, can the minister explain to the Assembly how the educational priorities and values of the Birrigai school and its program will be sustained and improved, given that the duties of the school’s leader will no longer centre on school education? If not, does this mean the ACT education department has abandoned its commitment to outdoor and environmental education at Birrigai?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. I will go to the second part of her question first. Clearly, no, the ACT department of education has not abandoned its support for outdoor education. In fact, given the significant investment both in the rebuilding of Birrigai and in the associated investment through the Territory and Municipal Services portfolio in Tidbinbilla, what we are seeing is an enhancement of not only of the education facilities and cooperative work in the relationship between the two agencies but, I believe, a broader enhancement of the facilities for all Canberrans.

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