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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 397..


MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I am interested in Mr Wood's question because this would have to be the most expensive program that I think we have had in our government sector. We have some two children, a teacher and an STA. I think that is about $125,000. The program has been continued, not only last year but this year as well, by this government, and I am somewhat bemused by Mr Wood's question. I will take that part of it on notice that he has mentioned. He has mentioned certain hours and other things. I am well aware that this is a program we have continued, and continued with incredibly generous funding, so I am somewhat amazed by his comments. As I do not have a ready answer about the six hours going up to 121/2, I will take it on notice. I will be interested to see, if we do have a Stanhope Labor government, whether Mr Wood will promise to pay more over and above the $125,000 that I understand we are paying for these two kids already.

Mr Stanhope: We will certainly be caring. We will not let people down like you. We won't reduce.

MR SPEAKER: Be quiet, Mr Stanhope. One of your colleagues would like to ask a supplementary question. You might do him the courtesy of permitting him to do so.

Mr Wood: Oh, I am ready to wait for him, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: You might wait a long time, the way he has been chattering today.

MR WOOD: I have a supplementary question. I am sorry to learn that Mr Stefaniak is not right up to the information on this matter, but I will wait for his further response. Minister, parents are concerned that if these children remain unsupported by specially trained staff, which I think we all acknowledge is necessary, for a large part of their school hours, their behaviour and therefore their capacity to learn will be drastically affected. Given your government's stated commitment to social capital, how can this be justified?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, this is a one-on-one program, to the best of my knowledge. As I said, I will take on notice what he says, but it is an incredibly intensive program. I saw it in operation last year and it is continuing this year. There is a teacher and a teacher's aid and two children, one on one. Again, I am rather bemused by what Mr Wood says. I would say that that is a classic example of social capital at its very best. I doubt very much, Mr Wood, whether you would see it anywhere else in Australia. In terms of the support that this territory gives to autism, we not only have far better ratios than anywhere else to my knowledge, but we also have more classes than some other larger states, including, I understand, New South Wales in their government system. Mr Moore reminds me also that we are spending money on a disability inquiry at this stage.

Special needs students

MR RUGENDYKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Education Minister, Mr Stefaniak. In last Thursday's Canberra Times a spokesman for you was attributed as providing information on transport for special needs children in the ACT. The relevant paragraph said:


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