Page 1722 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 May 2013

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DR BOURKE: Minister, can you tell us why the secure bike facilities are so important, as opposed to the pole things that are on the side of the road?

MR RATTENBURY: I was not the minister at the time the lockers were installed, but I believe the rationale behind the provision of the more secure facilities is that some cyclists have quite valuable machines; they can run to many thousands of dollars. Clearly the thinking is that, in providing more secure facilities, some cyclists will feel that they can leave their bikes more safely than leaving them attached to the exterior poles that you described, Dr Bourke.


MR SESELJA: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, the ACT branch of the Australian Education Union and a Save Our Schools spokesman have criticised your approval of three new non-government schools in Canberra, suggesting secrecy. You are quoted as saying that there are limited grounds on which an application can be refused and invited the unions to make submissions to change the decision-making process. Minister, will you allow unions to dictate the processes for non-government schools being allowed to open in the ACT?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Seselja for his question. There were concerns raised by the AEU and by Save our Schools in the approving of that process. They have termed it “secret business”. I have to clearly disagree with that. The process was fair and reasonable. It was enacted in accordance with the Education Act.

What I have said to them, but I have also said it to the independents, the Catholics and the non-government school council, is that if any of these stakeholders that have a clear interest in the process would like to make comment, I am happy to listen to them and we will think about how we can amend the act to make it clearer if they think there is lack of clarity.

As I have said this morning on radio, I am more than comfortable with my decision. We have a good quality public education system here. But Canberra families are also entitled to the choice to go into the non-government system. This is what these three schools will provide.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Seselja.

MR SESELJA: Minister, do you support new schools in the Belconnen area, or any area where a private operator can find space, or will unions be dictating where schools are opened in the ACT?

MS BURCH: The unions will not be dictating where schools are opened. There is a clear process for non-government schools to apply for in-principle approval, which is what the process is up to at this stage. Those three schools will need to go through the rest of the process, which is about securing land, building up their school, getting their education system in place and then coming forward to be registered as an educational facility.

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