Page 4915 - Week 13 - Thursday, 12 November 2009

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misbehaviour in the schools. They have asked the minister for this, but he does not want to give it to them. The minister has said that he wants to bring this matter back, and he has said that he cannot bring it back until next year. That is quite wrong, Mr Speaker. The fact that we are having a debate here today demonstrates how wrong that is.

If the minister were really interested in showing trust for ACT government school principals, in giving autonomy to ACT government school principals, he would have brought the matter back himself or, now that the opportunity has arisen through the work of Mr Doszpot, he should be supporting that. The clear message today from the ACT Labor Party is that they do not trust principals to exercise their autonomy for the benefit of students, even though those principals themselves have asked for this.

It is an absolutely shocking state of affairs when the minister wants this to happen, but only up to a point. The opposition wants to provide powers to principals, but this minister and this government have let politics get in the way of actually getting a resolution to this matter before the commencement of the next academic year.

I think that it would be fair to say that this vote will go down today, and it would be fair to say that Mr Doszpot will be doing his job as the shadow education minister in bringing this matter back at the first opportunity in 2010. It is really a matter of three or four weeks, but, in doing so, we do not give two principals the tools that they have asked for at a time which is most timely for them—that is, at the beginning of the academic year. This is about trust; this is about the regard with which the Minister for Education—

Mr Corbell: No, it is about the suspension of standing orders, actually. That is what it is about.

MRS DUNNE: We have shown today that the members of the Labor Party are prepared to use the standing orders to avoid showing their confidence in principals. We are, in fact, about principals—

Mr Corbell: On a point of order: we are not having a debate about the bill, Mr Speaker; we are having a debate about whether or not standing orders should be suspended. Mrs Dunne should direct her comments to that point.

MRS DUNNE: The reason that we are asking for the standing orders to be suspended is so that we can give these tools to the principals. We have to suspend standing orders to give these tools to the principals, and the government and the crossbenchers do not want to do so.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.17): Mr Speaker, it is worth just briefly making the point that it is disappointing that the education minister did not bother to come down and argue the case that he has been happy to try and make in the media. We have a situation where there is the opportunity to give principals parity with other states and give it to them now. That is what we could do. That is what the Assembly could do by allowing this debate to go ahead and by allowing this piece of legislation to stay on the notice paper. The question for the

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