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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (1 March) . . Page.. 482..


MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Did you intend to mislead this Assembly by implying that the funds were directed to task force operations and not to programs approved by this Assembly in that budget?

MR SMYTH: Clearly, as Mr Hargreaves has quoted from the budget, the $4.2 million was used for a range of police services. If I have used incorrect words or misled, it certainly was not the intention. The important thing here is that there was the $4.2 million in the budget. It is a budget that they opposed. They voted against putting extra police onto the beat. Like every other budget that they have opposed in this place, whether it be for job initiatives, business initiatives or putting more police onto the beat, they opposed that budget. If I got it wrong, and it appears so, I would apologise and correct the statement.

MR HARGREAVES: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I think the Assembly should accept the minister's apology. Will the minister, having apologised to this Assembly, apologise to the community for using funds which were otherwise intended?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, we have not misused funds for what they were intended. As clearly outlined in the budget paper that Mr Hargreaves just quoted, they were used for exactly what they were intended.

Trees in school grounds

MR WOOD: My question is to the Minister for Education. Everyone is saddened by the death of a young lad in a school ground yesterday; we feel for the family and the school. I expect that one outcome will be a rapid reassessment of potential dangers from trees in school grounds. I guess that schools will be on to that today. Perhaps it is a regular activity. Minister, can you assure parents that attention is being paid to this problem at a departmental level as well as at schools? Is that an ongoing activity?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. It certainly was a tragedy. I have spoken to Michael Ford, the principal of the Brindabella Christian College, and extended my sympathies. I told him that my prayers are with the school and the family. The school is coping very well. It has had counsellors in from the church. The police were on the scene within one minute, I am advised by the principal, who was particularly impressed with their efforts and the efforts of the ambulance service and other government services.

I understand that the young lad would not have noticed or felt anything as it seems that the death was a very quick one, but it was quite tragic. No doubt, the investigations will continue there. I think all members would join me in extending sympathy to the school and, especially, the family of the young boy concerned. As someone with a seven-year-old who is a climber, it has really brought home to me just how things like that can happen.

Mr Wood mentioned the trees. No doubt, the independent schools and the Catholic Education Office will do what they need to do in relation to their systems. I can say in relation to the government sector that a tree audit was done in 1999 and, as a result, certain action was taken. The work on trees averaged about $2,000, I think, at each site.


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