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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 407..


MR HUMPHRIES: Are you saying they cannot ask for an advance from next year's payments if they wanted to? I am sure Mr Stefaniak, the minister, would be quite happy to give them an advance on next year's payment if they would like to use that to pay for airconditioning. I am sure they could do that quite comfortably if they wished to. Other schools have managed to do that with fewer resources, and I think it is a reasonable thing to consider.

It is very easy to grandstand on an issue like this in an election year. There is nothing more likely to attract the sympathetic caress of television cameras than putting your arm around children who are heat stressed or whatever, but the fact is that it does not make good educational sense to be removing the responsibility for those decisions from the schools. And, indeed, it is not a good message to other schools that have made the provision for this to find that some schools will be favoured because of the political pressure they are able to place on government. In those circumstances, I think a move such as this is regrettable.

MR BERRY (3.52): Well, Mr Speaker, I am actually pandering to that favoured call of the Liberal Party and the conservatives opposite-the level playing field. What we are going to do is make sure that the government accepts responsibility for heating and cooling infrastructure in all government schools, rather than allowing those that have a few dollars to spare being better off than others.

When Mr Humphries speaks on education, in his usual sincere way, I am reminded of his statement when he was in opposition: "I can be honest now; I am in opposition." Mr Speaker, that rings loudly in my ears. I am also reminded, as Mr Humphries speaks passionately about giving people the responsibility for their own education and those sorts of things, of his widely announced view that in an ideal world the government would not be providing schools-or in an ideal world the private sector would provide them all. You recall the statement.

Mr Humphries: No, I don't actually.

MR BERRY: I do. And then I go back and I am reminded of Mr Humphries-ever so sincere about the provision of education!-and his move to close 27 schools, which slowly diminished to 15 and so on and so on.

Mr Humphries: It was never intended to close 27 schools, Mr Berry, that's why.

MR BERRY: It was an ambit claim-27 was an ambit claim. And he was slowly ground into the dust in relation to that. With that sort of a background in education, Mr Humphries, I would not say too much.

I want to also talk about the contribution that was made by Mrs Burke in relation to some of the things that Mr Osborne and I have been involved in. I must say that I was cut to the quick by her comments about Mr Osborne and I parading in front of the media. They were extraordinarily negative comments-and, I would have to say, unloving. We were down there at the request of people who were interested in their future education and, of course, we were there as members of this place concerned about what was happening to kids in our schools. Now, it may well upset the conservatives that their political opponents were out there on the media helping their constituents one way or anther, but


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