Page 2452 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 17 June 2009

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Shaddock review into special education, despite the fact that only two weeks ago you categorically ruled out the possibility of including them in this review. Given that students with special needs require the same types of assistance irrespective of whether they attend a government or non-government school, what consultation took place with the CEO, the Association of Independent Schools and the parents and friends association before initiating the review into special education?

MR BARR: No consultation, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Dozspot?

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, apart from “opposing us for the sake of opposing us”, to quote you, why did you exclude the non-government school sector from the review in the first instance?

MR BARR: As I have indicated on a number of occasions, when the review was established it was established in the government schools. There was no specific exclusion of non-government schools; it was simply established—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Members of the opposition, Mr Barr is trying to answer the question. It would be useful to let him do so. Mr Barr.

MR BARR: No, we did not include non-government schools initially. I have subsequently had a request from the non-government schools themselves to be included. It is worth noting that I have not included non-government schools in my review of school-based management. They have not asked to be involved, and it would be inappropriate for the government, in a review of school-based management of our government schools, to include non-government schools. We respect the independence of the non-government school sector, and we would only seek to involve ourselves in reviewing their teaching and curriculum practices upon their invitation.

It is not for the Liberal spokesperson on education to indicate a view on behalf of the non-government schools; it is a matter for them. They have approached the government, and we have responded to their request. Equally, if we want to ensure that there is an extension of human rights principles—

Mr Doszpot: Under human rights principles, you have a responsibility, minister.

MR BARR: If we acknowledge that point and take it to its logical conclusion, then do we, in fact, require adherence to the human rights principles of senior secondary students in Catholic and independent schools, for example, in relation to the availability of contraceptives and contraceptive machines? Do we need to extend the Human Rights Act provisions in any other areas where they are currently excluded and where we only have policies that relate to the government sector? If we are to take Mr Doszpot’s argument to its logical conclusion, there can never be a differentiation in policy, teaching practice, curriculum or anything that is relevant to the Human Rights Act.

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