Territory Stories

Questions Day 2 - Wednesday 19 March 2014



Questions Day 2 - Wednesday 19 March 2014

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Parliamentary Record 11


Questions for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016




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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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QUESTIONS Wednesday 19 March 2014 627 Mr Elferink: How did that help? Ms Lawrie: The court referred it. Education Review of Education Act Mr WOOD to MINISTER for EDUCATION You have announced a major review of the Education Act. This could mean radical changes to schools, including the role of school councils, and the possibility of independent public schools. Most schools have just held their AGM and elected their new council for the year. If you are saying you have released a paper for consultation, would you or the department not go to each school to explain to the school councils, parents and teachers what the proposed reforms mean so they can give an informed response? If you say the Education Act has lasted for 35 years, why are you allowing only six weeks for consultation? ANSWER Madam Speaker, I agree with everything the member for Nelson said except for one thing: it is not a six-week consultation period. There is a step-through process we want to get right, we want to consult with as many people as possible. You are right; people on school councils know their school better than anyone. The principals and teaching cohort within those schools should provide feedback to the Department of Education. We want to head down the road of a global funding model for funding our schools, giving them the autonomy to run their schools. We can only do this by changing the act. The act, originally introduced in 1979, is not up to todays standards. We need a contemporary act which will see us go through the next few decades. To get it right, we need to consult, but there are a number of consultation steps in this. I envisage the entire process will take between 12 and 18 months until it is in this Chamber - until it gets to the Cabinet process, where Cabinet signs off on the legislation and it comes into the Chamber. There will be discussions with councils, unions and teachers and this will roll-out over the next few months. Once we get the initial feedback another lot of consultation will occur, because we will be listening to feedback from the community. The nine points we have focused on, which we have in the discussion paper at the moment the question is, Are they the right nine principles? We want to be open with this process. If we truly want a contemporary piece of legislation which will see us through for the next 20 or 30 years, it needs to be drafted in such a way to allow change. We will get feedback. Councils are important, as are teachers and principals. The Education department is vitally important in this space, so too is looking at legislation around the country to see what other jurisdictions have. We have an opportunity to get this right, but we will not get it right unless we are prepared to listen to people. This process will ensure everyone is listened to and their feedback is given equal weight before we come up with the final legislation. There are many steps of consultation to go through but, I assure you, we will not be doing it without proper consultation. Bush Promises Jobs for Locals in Communities Ms WALKER to MINISTER for HOUSING Your government promised bush voters you support jobs for local people. The government in Canberra, and many members of your own government, agree unemployment and welfare is a root cause of entrenched Indigenous disadvantage in the Northern Territory. Why are you implementing policies leading to job losses in the bush, like the 19 hard working locals employed in housing maintenance in the West Arnhem Regional Council? Why are you not listening to your colleagues, especially those on your back bench who represent bush electorates, and supporting local employment in the bush, instead of favouring untested and expensive fly-in fly-out contracts for maintenance and housing tenancies work in communities? ANSWER Madam Speaker, I reject the premise of the question because it is entirely false. If anything, this will go to empowering Aboriginal people and providing more employment opportunities on the ground. I understand, the question is about the shire, the shire contracts and those other contractors who have received these new housing maintenance coordination services. Members interjecting. Mr CONLAN: Listen and I will explain to you. The contracts awarded will deliver three separate services in each region: housing maintenance coordination services; tenancy management services; and panel contract for trade qualified services. A total of 66 local and community-based organisations have been successful as part of the tender process. Are you disputing me? You are. Ms Walker: I am. Why are they retendering the Yirrkala contract?