Farmer furious at Yr 7 decision

23 Dec, 2013 01:00 AM
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WA Labor Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West MLC (left), with Andrew Dunne outside parliament in May.
What you have done, is give the Minister a tick of approval for this dreadful decision
WA Labor Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West MLC (left), with Andrew Dunne outside parliament in May.

BEACON farmer Andrew Dunne has written a scathing letter to the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs in response to its decision to finalise the Year Seven petition.

Mr Dunne was instrumental in developing the petition which was tabled in parliament in May.

The document called on the government to review its Year Seven transition policy.

The committee is responsible for reviewing all petitions bought to parliament by members of the Legislative Council.

Mr Dunne addressed the letter to chair of the committee Simon O'Brien MLC.

In it he said: "I am writing to convey the disappointment of the 4000 plus signatories and myself with the inaction your committee has taken in regard to the 'keeping Year Sevens in primary school' petition. To send a letter to me with the Education Minister's point of view is considered an insult to myself and the rest of the people who have been campaigning on behalf of our kids.

"I have met with Mr Collier twice, and I am well aware of his point of view.

"I am also aware of his tunnel vision in regard to this issue.

"He has only considered education and not the social, emotional, mental health and financial effects this decision will have on our rural communities and their families.

"I did not expect you to be able to convince the Minister to reverse this decision in every school, however, I did hope that you may do some research, contact a child psychologist, talk to teachers in small towns, talk to parents, talk to the children.

"What you have done, is give the Minister a tick of approval for this dreadful decision."

Mr Dunne then called on Mr O'Brien to reopen the review and undertake some research.

Mr O'Brien had not formally responded to Mr Dunne but told Farm Weekly there was sometimes a misapprehension as to the powers and role of the committee.

"The committee is not part of government, but we are part of parliament, and because of that we do not have the executive power to direct an agency," he said.

"In this case we don't have the powers to tell the Education Minister to rethink his policy.

"What we can do is bring matters to the attention of the relevant minister or government agency and ask them what they are doing to address those concerns."

Mr O'Brien wanted to make it clear that he or any members of the committee, did not have a view for or against the Year Seven issue.

He said part of their role was to look at the petitions without fear or favour.

"The committee didn't disregard the petition or the views of the people behind it," Mr O'Brien said.

"I am aware the issue is a matter of great interest and potential impact for both country and city families.

"We took the view that we needed to bring the petition and the concerns of the petitioners to the attention of the Education Minister, despite knowing he was already aware of the issues, and ask him to address those concerns.

"He addressed those concerns in his response and then it was our view that the committee would not be able to do any more to resolve this issue.

"The committee didn't resolve that the petitioners were without merit, what we resolved was that we had done as much as we could to make sure the concerns were being addressed."

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READER COMMENTS

for kids sake
23/12/2013 11:03:02 PM, on Farm Weekly

Mr O'Brien, please explain why "the committee would not be able to do any more to resolve this issue". Surely the committee can do more than shuffle paper from petitioners to the Minister? The petitioners can do that themselves. What's the purpose of the committee?

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