Page 2677 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 August 2015

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Since last Thursday my office has been deluged with emails outraged at the answers provided by Minister Burch and Minister Barr. None of their answers is regarded as believable. It may not matter to Minister Burch. Perhaps she keeps her best answers and outcomes for those in her electorate, although CIT Tuggeranong students may disagree. But the Chief Minister ought to remember that these are, above all, also his constituents, and they are not happy or impressed at the lack of clarity and consistency in the answers he has given.

As for Minister Burch’s scornful responses about how often or how little the tennis courts are used, I would be surprised if she did not hear the gasps of disbelief from the gallery last Thursday. In case she failed to notice, let me assure the Assembly that, like other claims Minister Burch makes about how well she knows her schools, Telopea indeed does have more than a handful of students using the tennis courts. In an email received yesterday I was told by a parent:

I have just spoken to PE dept—with all lessons and after school care … (there) is a minimum of 14 lessons per week and up to 24. The other fact … is that the tennis courts include a change room … used every time a whole year group in high school practice sport (tennis or something else) as there is insufficient change room space on the school without it.

When we move to how Mocca have been treated, one cannot be certain whether they have fared better or worse than Telopea Park School—better in that at least they were told, with no real explanation, last September that they would have to move because their land was wanted for “other purposes”. We know now that discussions were well underway with the Services Club, because they were telling their members in the middle of last year that a move was on to the Mocca site.

Of course, the government would have reasonably known all along that Mocca, as a not-for-profit organisation, had no way of affording another facility—and, indeed, they do not. After rumours started flowing early this year and they started to lose clients because parents were nervous they would not have a place for their children, Mocca started to rally. At their June “I love Mocca” rally, the minister and local MLA Mr Rattenbury turned up. At that rally, centre director Robby McGarvey was quite clear with what she wanted from government. As she pointed out, Mocca had been in the community for 88 years; they have students who are there from eight to 5.30 five days a week; dozens and dozens of working parents depend on them to provide professional care to their children.

At the rally, Mr Rattenbury accepted that Mocca had been caught by surprise. He, unlike his cabinet colleagues, was prepared to admit that they had been caught up in a process that is very much about solving the rebuilding of the Canberra Services Club. Mr Rattenbury went on to say that he thought the government needed to think more about it and come up with a better solution than what was currently proposed. In a communication with the Telopea Park P&C president in June, Mr Rattenbury said he had written to the Chief Minister to express some concerns, as I have outlined in the notes that form part of the motion.

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