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Vicki Dunne interview — the answers

By Kerces - 17 March 2006 21

After I ran into Vicki Dunne at the hairdresser the other day and introduced myself, she has finished answering our questions and sent them back.

She said she has also ” taken the liberty of answering the question which I thought was the best suggested but you decided to overlook”, which is at the end.

1. Do you think you have irreparably damaged Richard Mulcahy’s leadership ambitions by alienating the one member of the Smyth faction who might have changed sides, Steve Pratt? Some may ask whether you are really a Smyth mole, sent into the Mulcahy to ensure he is unable to gain sufficient numbers to take the leadership?

Don’t give up your day job f_uzzzy.

No seriously, I’m not buying into who’s-on-whose-side questions on the RiotACT (or any other public forum). I don’t set out to alienate anyone. I think I can reassure your readers that I’m not anyone’s mole.

2. How do you feel about the Federal Government overruling ACT decisions? While the entire country clearly has a legitimate interest in the decisions affecting the parliamentary triangle area, should residents of, say, Sydney have any more influence on planning decisions in Gungahlin or Tuggeranong than we do on Parramatta?

This is a tricky one – there’s no getting around the fact that the ACT is a subordinate legislature, and so legally there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re always going to have the difficult task of balancing ACT and national interests. I’m on record as saying the NCA should pull its head in, the decisions re Pierce’s Creek and Gungahlin Drive Extension are both cases which should have been left for the territory to solve. These are purely administrative and the Commonwealth should not interfere. I’m on the record as advocating a role back, but not complete abolition of, the powers of the NCA.

3. If you were planning an ACT Liberal Party fund raiser and needed a community leader from Canberra to speak, who would you ask?

When you consider the audience and the desire to raise a s many funds as possible the PM wins hands down.

4. I would be interested to hear how you propose the ACT deal with the unacceptably high level of teenage school drop outs as a result from the proposed ‘curriculum renewal’? What do you propose as an alternative?

Thanks a policy question at last. While the ACT has the highest retention rates in the country on paper at least there are some real problems. The College Review, which came out a few weeks ago, points to some of the problems. Much of the emphasis in colleges is far to “academic” for the 70% of students who aren’t going to end up at university.

As a parent of children who have gone through the college system and who followed both the academic and the technical stream, my observations are that there is too much weighting and emphasis given to doing a tertiary package. We need to find ways of ensuring that our children aren’t disengaging in years 11& 12 because, as sure as night follows day, they will disengage from further study and then be excluded from the workforce, society etc etc.

Ah curriculum renewal – don’t get me started! Over the past forty years we have seen so many policy failures in the name of some sort of renewal.

It’s my view that the ACT has a pretty good education system by any national measure and a fair few international measures. My concern about curriculum renewal is that we risk taking on all the worst features of education systems that perform less well than ours. It’s ironic that when the ACT is embracing the 36 key learning areas which are described in the most mind-numbing language other states are abandoning them.

There is too much written about our failings in English and maths in particular for us to ignore it. It is a crying shame that more & more tertiary institutions are having to run catch up classes for first-year students. It’s not that our children are less intelligent, it’s that our school systems seem to be teaching them less than they used to.

If we look at Ireland nearly 50% of school graduates go to university and a further 43% undertake technical training.

Ireland is a good example for us in the ACT. 40 years ago they decided that, with few natural resources and not much land, their only real asset was their brainpower. Now the Irish are the most sought-after employees in Europe. IT & hi tech companies are moving to Ireland not just because of EU money but also because of the pool of well-educated employees.

I suppose what I want to see is some fundamental changes in education that will bring about a strengthening of the core skills – English, maths, science, IT – an increased emphasis on teaching languages, music and the arts, all underpinned by good fitness. There needs to be good access to manual skills courses, technical courses and a sound academic stream.

We need good connections with industry, workplaces and academia so that children understand where their schooling is taking them and are assured that what they are studying is both relevant and worthwhile

5. What do you think about putting a bus line through to – I like this one – Canberra International Airport?

Public transport systems to airports seem to lose money, but then public transport anywhere seems to lose money these days. There is a bus linking hotels and the airport and they charge much more than the standard ACTION fare. Apparently there has been some study done into the viability of a bus route but the Government seems coy about the results. “Liberal Heart-Throb”, Zed Seselja, has attempted to get the study under FOI so watch this space. .

I suppose that’s possibly one of the reasons we have the purpose-built bottle-necks at every round about on Pialligo Avenue – to make a bus service look more attractive!

6. What are your thoughts on actually being able to park your car in Civic?

Advances in public transport are important and something I’ve spoken and written about as well as tried to encourage public debate. The problem is that the approach by the present government is to squeeze drivers out of their cars by reducing the amount of parking and jacking up the price. We heard the head of ACTPLA say this on WIN News last night (15 March 2006). They are also narrowing many of the lanes on arterial roads by putting in on-road cycle paths which all act as a disincentive.

I’d rather see the provision of a good, reliable service which is attractive to people. That combined with the price of fuel and running a car should encourage people out of their cars for simple journeys like to and from work, running errands etc, but probably not the weekly shopping.

7. As a politician, how do you approach difficult issues/decisions such as the proposed Majura Valley Dragway, where both sides of the argument are very passionate and have valid points? How do you personally arrive at a position on this type of issue?

A thoughtful question! I look at all the arguments. There’s no magic formula.

8. The big question is what have you got against Staffies?

Do you still feel that they should be a restricted/banned dog in the ACT and why? Going by dog attack stats you’d be far better restricting heelers or shepherds.

A Staffordshire bull terrier is a wonderful dog that is gentle and loving. You’d be better for having one Vicki.

Pass –arguing with a militant dog-owner (the sort of person who posts advertisements for their breed onto websites disguised as political questions) about their breed is only slightly less silly than trying to persuade an AFL fan his team sucks. I will say the stats need to be read in the light of actual dog numbers – should we ban Holdens because they’re involved in more prangs than Ferraris?

I have been on the record saying that we should consider banning dangerous breeds. There have been a number of deaths and particularly bad maulings associated with particular types of dogs. Perhaps the community is not as keen on this as I once was and if we did go down that path it wouldn’t happen by a list of proscribed dogs imposed from on high. It’s not the way I work.

9. Vicki, as ex-Education minister perhaps you could shed some light on why, both the ACT Department of Education and CEO have failed to “come to the party” re: Enterprise Bargaining Agreements which become redundant this year.

The CEO EBA is completed at the end of March and despite the CEO having an offer on the table for 5 months, they have done nothing.

The ACT Department of Education has also had an offer on the table.

Do you believe they are effectively “holding out” so that the new IR laws can come into effect and basically have teachers arrested if they choose to strike?

Thanks for the (retrospective) promotion, but I’m only a former shadow (as opposed to a shadow of my former self).

A free kick at the government is always tempting, but no, I don’t think the ACT Labor govt is busting to try out the Howard IR package. (I wish.) I tend to prefer common-or-garden-variety incompetence as an explanation for their 11th hour offer.

10. Vicki, you’re on the public record as saying Katy Gallagher, courtesy of being born in the 1970s, is ‘imbued with all the pedagogical nonsense that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s that thwarted educational reform in western schooling’. The new shadow education spokesperson, Zed Seselja, is also a child of the 70s and is therefore also likely to be imbued with similar ‘pedagogical nonsense’. Do you think he will be able to overcome such genetic inhibitions?

I think they’re environmental not genetic inhibitions, and thus can be overcome, with patience and suitable medication. Zed seems to be responding to treatment.

And the bonus one

In answer to colsim’s musings about the difference between shit and clay…

Actually as the owner and occupant of one of the few rammed earth houses in Canberra I would hope certainly hope that I can tell clay from the brown smelly stuff!

What’s Your opinion?

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21 Responses to
Vicki Dunne interview — the answers
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Vic Bitterman 8:53 pm 17 Mar 06

Thank you Vicki for your frank answers to these questions.

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