Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2676 ..
Of course, all this flies in the face of the education directorate advice last November that said: “Preliminary advice indicates that it”—the oval—“may not be a viable option”. This was discovered under FOI, the only way anyone these days has any hope of getting anything out of this government. And even then, the process is very slow, the information is limited and the black pen runs freely in redacting most of what is supplied.
This issue is fast becoming a pea and thimble con trick that has backfired. I am sure the government hoped in the early days that the schools would huff and puff initially but ultimately be lured by the promise of much-needed funds and go quietly into the corner—that Mocca, as a not for profit with little means of affording any sort of move or expansion on its own, would be forced to stay quiet for fear of not getting first offer of occupancy at the new site. What the government did not count on was the passion and the tenacity of Telopea school parents; the fierce determination of the Mocca community to cling to what they have and what they do best; and the fierce support of the inner south community, which has backed both entities.
As mentioned, a number of FOI requests were lodged. While they were limited in what they released, the first FOI, lodged by my colleague Alistair Coe in March this year, showed that the ETD had, indeed, been considering land seizures well before they admitted that to the school. In November the land was thought not suitable. Many would agree that the site would be hard to pass in a traffic study given the number of primary and high school students already in the location.
Another FOI, lodged on 7 May by the Telopea Park P&C president, was still unanswered when I raised the matter in the Assembly last week. Maybe it was a coincidence, but yesterday, just five days after I drew this illegality to the attention of the Assembly, the P&C president received a schedule and a limp apology for its lateness. A quick perusal of the schedule of this latest FOI suggests a serious number of refusals to supply on very spurious grounds. Reasons provided, such as “internal work in progress” or “personal information”, are limp at best, arrogant at worst. What are they hiding? What is the secrecy?
The Telopea school community know the Montgomery Oval land has been rezoned. They know it may house a childcare centre and the school may have $800,000 to spend. They do not know when it might happen other than Bulldozer Burch’s clear desire to get the machines moving in the December quarter—
Mr Gentleman: Point of order.
MADAM SPEAKER: Order! It is all right, Mr Gentleman. Can you withdraw, Mr Doszpot. I remind you to refer to members by their name or their title—no epithets, please.
MR DOSZPOT: I withdraw, Madam Speaker. Other than Minister Burch’s clear desire to get the machines moving in December. That is certainly the message the school is getting from the education directorate.