Page 1195 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 24 March 2009
MR BARR: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. Yes, I have received a letter—like all Australian education ministers—in relation to those issues. I am not in a position at this point to provide a government response to that request. There are pros and cons in relation to how any legislation might be constructed.
I understand that the New South Wales parliament did pass a piece of legislation that seeks to address these issues. Obviously, there are a number of conflicts and competing priorities in relation to freedom of speech and our own FOI legislation that would at this point make all of that data available to any organisation seeking to access it through FOI. We need to have a look at whether any such legislation would be consistent with practices that this place has adopted in recent times in relation to access to information.
I, like all of my state and territory education colleagues, have concerns in relation to the potential for the data that is available through the national testing process to be utilised in simplistic league tables. I would like to take this opportunity to make a clear statement that we do not support that. It was on the basis that that would not be possible through the arrangements that the commonwealth and the states and territories have entered into that we felt comfortable in entering into those agreements.
Whether it is necessary to take a further step in terms of a legislative response I think needs some careful consideration but I am mindful that this information is available through FOI at this point. This Assembly took a conscious choice in making the decisions that it did to make this sort of information available and to give the minister of the day no power whatsoever to stop that information from being misused.
MS BURCH: My question is to the Chief Minister, as Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. Would you please advise the Assembly on the importance of responsible kangaroo management in the ACT?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Burch for the question. This is an important question, the issue of kangaroos and their management. It is an issue which has certainly raised passions and been somewhat controversial in the territory in recent years.
As a consequence of some of the issues that have been raised in the past, over the last couple of years, the government asked Territory and Municipal Services to begin the process of developing a kangaroo action plan. A draft of that plan has now been produced and released for community consultation and information. It is a rigorous, evidence-based, scientific report prepared by experts, ecologists within Parks and Conservation within the Department of Territory and Municipal Services. It is broad ranging. It is a management strategy in the order of 200 pages. It addresses, assesses and analyses the full range of issues and implications of living in a community, as we do, with a significant population of kangaroos. The advice, the evidence or the view from within Parks and Conservation, indeed, is that it is a starting point in relation to any conversation or discussion on kangaroos and their management.