Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991

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Parliamentary Record 3


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 school that is one token effort in that direction. I believe that every primary school in the Northern Territory ought to be teaching languages. Hr Stone: The majority of them are. Mr BELL: In the terms of that letter, the majority of them are not. Since the time when the minister and I went to school, it has been well established that the best time for students to commence learning languages is before they reach secondary school. I will not get into that debate now. I could spend an hour talking about it, but I will not. However, the point I would make, and this goes to the substance of this debate, is that those programs, which have been developed and are a crucial part of the tone of Rapid Creek Primary School, ought to be retained. Clearly, this school has been doing some excellent work, but the comments made by the minister and the hasty decisions taken by this government have seriously compromised its tone. The minister has closed schools and has done so with a minimum of consultation. He has done so with scant regard for parents, teachers and the school community. He has done so with no regard to the primary and preschool students whose schools are now to be wiped out with a stroke of a pen. My colleagues and I were flooded with calls from panic-stricken parents and teachers when the minister confirmed school closures. I have already referred to Rapid Creek Primary School. The member for Wanguri will refer to the minister's lightning visit to Tiwi Primary School and the member for Barkly will comment in respect of Karguru Primary School. I should indicate that, in both those cases, I am entirely bemused by the processes that have led to the decisions taken in respect of those schools. The member for Barkly will give details in that regard. The minister's visit to Tiwi Primary School had all the hallmarks of the grim reaper. He visited the school and, all of a sudden, people were saying that the minister had told them that the school would be closed. Hr Stone: The minister never told them at all. Hr BELL: The minister might like to tell us what he did say because it is a little like watching his lips move and trying to work out what he said. The rumours and counter-rumours, which are entirely the responsibility of the minister himself, have created the type of chaos that I have indicated. The calls from parents and teachers to members of the opposition increased every time the minister visited a different school. The state of panic that was created gave him the appearance of being the grim reaper. I heard people say: 'Let us hope that he does not turn up here. Perhaps, if we shut up, we will be left alone'. Hr Vale: You ought to hear what they say about you. Hr BELL: Mr Speaker, I look forward to the comments of the member for Braitling, whose electorate has managed to escape the burden of the cuts. If we are talking about this from an electorate point of view, I should point out that the impact on Labor electorates, particularly bush electorates, has yet to be identified in detail. I know the schools in my electorate are reeling already from lack of maintenance and, more particularly, from lack of continuity of staff. In many cases, they are also reeling from the cuts that have been imposed by the demographers' judgments. In school after school in my electorate, I am told: 'Here are all the students. Here are the names on the rolls and here are the 779

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