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Stateline (ACT) -

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(generated from captions) And that's ABC's News. with Philip Williams, Stay with us now for 'Stateline' coming up next. and the Canberra news team And Craig Allen

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Hello and welcome to

Stateline. I'm Philip Williams.

Well, what a week it's been -

there's clearly so much to talk

about after the ACT Budget and

so little time. So it's a

subject we can and will revisit

in coming programmes, but the

one issue everyone is talking

about - school closures. When

Jon Stanhope and Education

Minister Andrew Barr announced

39 schools were to go, they

must have known the avalanche

of anger and distress it would

trigger. We'll be talking to

Andrew Barr later. He has a

surprising message - this may

not be a done deal. First we

visit some of the schools

slated for closure. The

parents, the students and the

communities devastated by the

news. It is a change Budget,

a reform Budget. Change is

difficult. I believe this is a

strong package an about

investing in public

education. Government after

Government, year after

year. Closures will benefit

students. It's an unusual way

to win friends and influence,

increase taxes, cut jobs and

close a quarter of the

schools. The time has come -

this Government has taken the

decision that today is the day

and this is the Government.

We'll bite the bullet and we'll

risk of course the

response. Thinks a small sample

of that response. Make a wobbly

everyone! Schools are seen not

just as an educational unit,

but the very heart of a

community. I was devastated. I

went home and cried when the

kids couldn't see me. It's like

whipping out the heart of a

community. It is a viceral

reaction. On top of the shop

closure, it feels like someone

has taken an axe to the suburb.

Being able to walk to a primary

school is so important to us.

We would move. Someone was

saying they rang the real

estate agent and prices have

dropped $45,000. At Giralang

pre-school, parents are

digesting the news - there will

be no place for their children

next year or next door at the

primary school. The Government

has a policy of building better

communities where Giralang they are ripping the heart out of

our community. If you haven't

got a school or shop, how can

the community work

interactively with each other

and have a good environment for

our children? Just

devastated. How are the kids

feeling? Well, I haven't told

my kids yet. They will be

hysterical if they knew. Some

moved to Giralang because of

the school and a sense of a

safe, caring community. I grew

up in Canberra at a community

local school and I think being

able to walk to your primary

school is so important. It's

like an extension of your back

fence and you have a wonderful

feeling of belonging and

safety. There are so many

pathways through Giralang to

get to the primary school

safely. Just that sense of

being part of something bigger

than your own backyard, I

think. Giralang is hit doubly

hard - not only is the school

to go, the shops are already

history. There's a wry smile as

parents walk past a flyer for

the Giralang Primary Open

Night. And past shops that were

once part of a vibrant

commercial centre. I love the

suburb. It was a beautiful

little suburb when we came here

- we had shops, school. I

thought the kids can walk to

school and shops and we don't

have to run around in the car.

What this will do to our land

value, we don't know. They've

dropped our land value, put up

our rates and a beautiful

suburb with a lovely heart,

where you could walk to the

heart of the suburb without

crossing a major road, district

playing fields, it was all

there for everybody to enjoy

and the heart has been ripped

out of the suburb. This is not

just a political problem for

you, but very much an emotional

it? Yeah, it's definitely not problem for you too isn't

political for us. The only political thing is maybe next

time when we go to the polls we

might vote differently than

what we have done previously.

It's emotional. It's very hard

for you to explain to your

children they have to leave the

school. While the ACT

Government may be banking on

resilient children and parental

anger fading before the next

election, it's a bet the

political farm on these drastic

moves as Sir Humphrey may have

observed, it's a brave

decision. Is the fight

over? God, I hope not! We've

all said we will chain ourselves to whatever was

required. I think mums have a

lot of pent-up anger and we'll

be out there. A few kilometres

up the Barton Highway, the

sentiment is no less intense.

Still in shock, but getting

over it, getting angry now. You

can't close this school. This

school has so much history.

And... Yeah... Sorry. You are

really upset about this aren't

you? Yeah. Yep. Do you feel

you can do anything about

it? Well, I'm hoping. I've

started a little campaign and

I'm going to write a letter to

Andrew Barr every day. He

can't do this. Vicki Harris

lives in Dunlop, but enrolls

her daughter at Canberra's

oldest, continually operating

school - Hall Primary. It too

closes at the end of this

year. I guess I will have to

put all the uniforms away I

won't be needing them for this

one. For almost 100 years, the

school bell has rung for

generations of children from

the Hall district. It's a

reality that bites hard. Like

her mother, second grader

Lauren Harris, doesn't

understand why. What is so good

about the school? It's fun and

you get a good playground and

you have lots of friends and

kids. You have a nice classroom

and teacher. So were you upset

when you heard the news? Yep.

What did you think? I thought

it was really bad. It's not

just the school that is

affected. The village has just

lost the doctor, the pharmacy

went years ago and now Tamara

Summerhill is wondering if

she'll have to shut up shop -

the only one in town. It will

have a big affect. We do the

school lunches but I've also

had parents come in and say

they will be shutting their

Post Office boxes because they

purely have them because they

pick up the kids and drop them

off and it's convenient.

They'll be shut down. At the

Post Office counter, Wendy is

left wondering about her job

security and her boy's

future. Your boy would be going

into year 6 at Hall? Would be,

yes. How did you feel when you

found out? He's upset. And

you? I'm disappointed. I was

hoping he would finish his

schooling there. What's the

most upsetting part of? I Hall

needs a school. It will be a

big gap in the community. That

appears to be the problem - a

powerful perception that by

closing the schools, you gut

the very communities the

Government says it's trying to

help. Hard economics has

crashed head-on with parent's

expectations and it's not clear

who will walk away from the

collision. Well as the only

stand alone college in the

inner north, the announcement

that Dickson College is to

close in 200 8 came as a huge

shock. Hundreds gathered at the

school to vent their anger at

the decision. The protest

coinciding with the college

Open Night. Open night at

Dickson College, a hard sell

given its slated

closure. Chantler don't close

Dickson! I'll be looking to

change my vote. As a

traditional Labour voter, I

feel so angry that I am

considering not voting for

Labour in two years time.

Chantler we'll show Jon

Stanhope what we think of

choice and democracy. Are we

mad, yes we're very, very sad.

Don't close our college

down. Petitions were signed and

when the chanting and speeches

subsided, the banners spoke

volumes. It stinks. Where else

are the kids going to go to

cloodge? As well as angry, many

are bewildered and confused

following the Budget's radical

changes to public education. Whether or not it's

just to see exactly what kind

of support is around and how

angry people are about it as to

whether or not their intention

is to back down and try

something else, who knows. Who

knows what their plan is.

We'll just do what we need to

do and fight the good fight,

accordingly. Chantler Mr

Stanhope have you got something

to say? Save our school! save

our school! This makes no

sense. No sense whatsoever.

Narrabundah College is full,

Ginninderra College is in

Belconnen where there are three

secondary colleges. North

Canberra has one. This is

it! Inside the school,

education officials mingled

with concerned parents but

refused to speak to Stateline

on Canberra. One representative

said he was attending the open

night to help Dickson College

get on with business. Outside,

that business translated its

message loud and clear. What we

need to do is tell Jon Stanhope

he needs to listen to us. He

needs to listen to us now

because we are angry and we

vote. And during the week,

immediate reaction from Dickson

College students to the shock

closure - uniform disbelief and

disappointment. I was shocked.

I couldn't believe it. I didn't

think they would close a school

like this, especially since the

next closest public school is

Lake Ginninderra and then from

there it is Hawker or nar

abunda. What will the inner

north do? It is bad news. My

sister came here and I'm coming

here and my brother is coming

next year and I'm hoping my

littliest brother would come

through Dicko as well because

it's a bit of a family school

now. Socceroo it's a bit

shattering. Being in year 11 is

hard because I have to be here

next year and all my friends

will be leaving and if they

close the school, what will

happen? I heard that Campbell

will be going to year 12 now

and so what about the people in

year 11 or in year 10 that

finish Campbell and come to

Dickson and then have to go

back to Campbell. How will they

feel? Chantler save our

school! The proposals put

forward by the minister this

morning was for the students of

north Canberra to go to either

the Campbell 7-12 school and he

promised them a new car park,

or to hop on the bus or to

drive to Belconnen for one of

the colleges in the Belconnen

area. How a very vamped

Campbell High School would cope

with an influx of hundreds of

ex-Dickson College students and the assumption students have

access to cars and straight-forward public transport has raised community

ire and questions as to the

viability of either

proposal. We don't believe that

the north Canberra can do

without a standalone secondary

college. The advice we've had

from the staff at the college

is that the demographics, the

assumptions about the capacity

of the school in fact point to

a real situation where the

college could continue on into

the distant future. Dickson actually highlights some

serious flaws in the 20-20

programme as it's been drafted.

The document contains a

statement about Dickson's

capacity as 1,040-plus figures.

Those figures are a decade old

and the actually capacity of

Dickson is smaller than that.

Its future of a college between

550 and # 00 students is

assured. You are seeing a

significant change in the

demographics in the community.

We have younger families with

children moving into the area

that will need a standalone

secondary college. There's

been the most amazing outpouring from the community

of support. My phone has not

stopped until 11:30 the last

two nights and started again at 7:30 in the morning. Incredible ground as well of support that

has been shown to myself as a

board chair and the school in

general. It's not like we have

less kids than everywhere else.

There will be so many more

people coming around here that

don't want to go to Darramalan

or Narrabundah. It's nearly

full. I really like Dickson.

Going to another school and

having to travel possibly two

hours a day to the other side

of town just to go to school is

not fair. You can't have lots

of schools on the other side of

town and none here. It doesn't

work. Dickson College

facilitiates everybody's needs.

Quite frankly it is an

excellent school and I've seen

other schools. It's

fantastic. That's the message

the school community wants to

convey to Education Minister,

Andrew Barr. We found it very

unsettling to hear na they will

close the only college in the

inner north and it highlights

to us where the priorities are

of the Labour Government. We're

wondering what Labour is doing

to invest in the future of or

children and what is the basis

of the decision-making there. Has been no community

consultation. Very

distressed. He's been given a

poison chalice in the sense

that he's conducting the worst

campaign on a prorata basis in

the nation's history against a

public education system. It's

not the worst, it's certainly

equally as bad as what Kennett

did to public education in

Victoria. So we have a new

minister who doesn't know his

portfolio, but owes his place

in that ministry to his

commitment to the Chief

Minister's plan to drive down

the ACT's deficit. The price

for the ACT's deficit and

resolving that deficit is being

borne by the students and

teachers in public education.

The destabilisation over the

next three years, and

particularly the cut of 10% in

the staff of every secondary

school, is not a proposal, that's supports public

education.

SCREAMING AND YELLING

He may have been in politics

just a couple of months, but

ACT Education Minister, Andrew

Barr, is enduring a baptism of

fiemplt determined, as he is,

the public system will get a

radical overhaul. Throughout

the week, both he and the Chief

Minister have defended the need

tore schools to close. It

certainly appeared the figure

of 39 to go was rock solid, but

is it? You may be surprised to

learn all of this is just a proposal and the minister's

mind can be changed. Maybe. I

spoke to Andrew Barr about the

fear and distress created by

this far-reaching plan. These

are consultation proposals.

There is no decisions made. What we have done is put

forward a proposal for the

future of education. Not just

for the next year, but for the

next five, ten, fifte, n

years. You say it's a proposal,

but the impression in the

community is that this will

happen, these schools are going

to close. Are you telling me

there is a chance the schools

won't close? There is a

consultation process we are

undertaking now. It started

this week and will continue

through until the end of the

year in early December. The

Government has stated upfront

there will be a need to close

some schools, that our system

is operating about 30% under

capacity that there are nearly

18,000 empty desks. Some

schools need to close. That's

inevitable. Is this a gigantic

misunderstanding. Most in the

community I suspect believe

this is what the Government is

going to do, 39 schools will

close? Some of those schools

will close. And some

won't? There are a range of

options in the discussion paper

around the future prospects for

particular schools and

configurations. So some schools

may not actually close. There

are some schools that may not

close as part of the

proposal. How many, roughly? We

have a consultation process to

discuss those options. We've

looked at three schools in

particular, Hall Primary,

Giralang Primary and Dickson

College. The consistent theme

with all those institutions is

this is not about the closing

of a scoocialtion but shutting

down a community. This is about

ripping the heart of a

community. Any change in

education provision is

difficult. There is no doubting

that. I understand and

appreciate there is a high

level of emotion attached to

local schools. I would be

disappointed if the public

weren't interested in

supporting their schools. We're

talking about people extremely

upset, people in tears and

angry, people saying they will

never vote for you again? I

accept that there will be a

level of disquiet in any change

process. I understand that, but

the options the Government has

are to sit back, do nothing and

let the system drift into

minority status and decay. That

is unacceptable. Hall Primary

has been there nearly 100 years

and is very much part of the

community and region. It's

historically significant. It

is. It has strongtise. Why does

that have to go? It is an

ageing building and it would be

expensive to bring the building

up to the standard we think

schools should be at. The other

factor with Hall is it is a

majority school for NSW

residents. We receive no

funding from the NSW Government

to teach NSW students. Would

you accept the NSW education

department taking it over,

leasing it perhaps and running

it for NSW students only? If

the NSW education department

want to come forward with a

proposal, I would welcome

that. Giralang. That's earmarked for closure.

Extremely upset parents there.

There is an autism unit at the

pre-school, very important to

those that use it: Yes. What

will happen to those people and

do you understand with the

shops also gone, this community

feels like they've been

absolutely gutted by your

Government. I understand there

is a proposal for the

redevelopment of the shops at

Giralang. All of the programmes

operating at Giralang Primary

will be transferred to another

campus. This debate has to move

beyond simply buildings.

Schools are about more than

buildings, but are about

programmes and teachers and a

culture and a

community. Exactly. The

community is what they

want... But it's not fixed in a

particular building. No, but

the community of Giralang is

saying, "We want our school in

our suburb. We've always had

it. This is why we moved here." Giralang I understand is

operating at about 36%

capacity. You have to ask the

question f the Giralang

community wanted that school to

stay then why aren't there more

students at that school? You've

got really frightened parents

scrambling around trying to get

their kids into other schools,

panicking about their

children's futures and really

thrown into turmoil. This is

not something I'm

manufacturing, this is very

real. I understand any change

process is difficult, but faced

with the choice, as I say, of

the public education system

declining into minority status,

into nothing more than a

safetynet system as parents

vote with their feet and walk

out, that's the first choice if

we don't do anything. No matter

what the community feels about

the buildings or the fact it's

located within their

community? There is a need that

is undenighable for some

schools to close. I can't

provide a school in every

suburb. You could lose the

election over this couldn't

you? It is possible. Are you

prepared for that? Are you

prepared to go to the wall on

that issue? I think in the end

the public will judge me as

Education Minister on being

able to deliver high quality

public education. I will do my

very best. That's why I'm in

politics, to achieve change and

make our public education

system better. You've no doubt

seen in headline today -

Stanhopelss. That's a NSW

pu,. I wouldn't say The Daily

Telegraph is a journal of

record in Australia. It's not

good for the Government's

image. You are very much on the

back foot on this. Any time

governments seek to make

difficult decisions there will

always be upset in the

community. What happens to the

vacant buildings and the land

surrounding them? There has

been no factoring in of any

sale of buildings within the

package. Is that a

guarantee? That's a guarantee

for me. Look in the Budget

papers, there is no high

pothication of any building

sales in education. That's a

guarantee from you, but you may

not always be the Education

Minister. I can't guarantee to

be the Education Minister

forever, but as part of this

proposal, there is no hy prkts

othication... What do you do

with valuable land then? The

Government policy is surplus

Government buildings are hand

today property group within the

department of territory and

municipal services. They are

zoned for community use. There

is a long list of

organisations, sporting groups

and a range of other bodies who

would like access to these

facilities. We're not talking

residential? No, we're talking

continued use within the

community. This is a 6-month

consultation process, you have

started, yet there are schools

slated for closure this

year. No, not this year. At the

end of this year. Some schools

would not open in 2007. OK, so

they would not go beyond this

year? How do you stop that

juggernaut? They are listed for closer. The consultation period

is six months. You won't have

time to change your mind on

that? The consultation period

will end in early December. In

the meantime though, all the

parents planning to go to that

school will have looked for

somewhere else because they've

been told this school will

close? That's possible. We've

certainly factored... It

becomes self-fulfilling doesn't

it? Not necessarily. It will

depend a lot on the flavour of

the consultation process. If

there are compelling things

we've missed, or compelling

rational reasons why a

particular school that may have

25 or 75 kids at this point

needs to stay open, that we've

overlooked, I would welcome the community bringing forward

those arguments. It will have

to be pretty powerful stuff to

make you change your mind. It

will have to be based on

education provision. I don't

think the message I do need to

send is... I want to hear

rational argument, but yelling

at me, being loud doesn't

necessarily mean your school

will stay open. What is the

best way to get through to you? Intelligent, rational

debate. You might listen and

reverse those closures? I'm

happy to engage on all these

issues. What would you say to

the thousands of parents

watching this right now who

just want to go for your

throat? They feel so angry and

disappointed and so let down? I

would say I'm looking forward

to discussing with them over

the next six months these

proposals. I look fashd to a

constructive debate. Getting

personal at me isn't going to

keep a school open. So, I mean,

if that's a direction some

people want to take, that's

part of political life. I'm a

product of this system. I went

to Turner Primary and

Lyneham. Are any of those

closing? No, all of those

schools have very strong

enrolments and Lyneham in

particular has an excellent

gifted and talented programme

and there are some real

opportunities I think to expand

on. What is it about those

particular schools that sees

them fully prescribed with

waiting lists to get into? If

we can reppate that across the

education system in the

Territory, if I can achieve

that out of this process, then

I think I will go a long way to

addressing the decline in

enrolment s and will go a long

way to having the best

education system in the

world. Thank you for talking to

Stateline. Thank you. That's

the programme for another week.

Back at the same time next

week. Don't forget it's the

last days of the Constantly

Exhibition at the national

gallery. If you haven't seen it

or want a long, lingering look,

you better get in there fast.

Here is our editor and crew's

take on it. From all of us,

goodbye.

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THEME MUSIC

Welcome to the show. I'm Andy Muirhead and this is Collectors - the show that celebrates ordinary Australians and the extraordinary things that they collect. And to help us do that we have our panel of experts. Professor of sociology and avid '50s collector, Adrian Franklin. Museum curator and historian, Niccole Warren.

And antiques dealer and collector extraordinaire, Gordon Brown.

So, let's see what's on the show tonight. Niccole? So, what do Rolls-Royce, Lalique and Norman Lindsay have in common? This collector knows.