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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 4040..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

upper secondary schools and colleges to become leaders in their community and support other indigenous students at school. Those are important programs.

In relation to autism, the government has been opening extra learning support units. The number of children being diagnosed with autism is increasing all the time. This year, three primary school units and one high school unit have been opened. Those units will continue to open as demand increases. This government increased funding for students with disabilities by allocating $4.4 million over four years. Of course, some of that money will go to the non-government sector to ensure that we are meeting our responsibilities in that area. Children must have access to their school system, an area of growth and an area in which this government is assessing the level of need and allocating the necessary dollars.

I refer next to learning support units. Eight new settings for students with disabilities opened in the beginning of the 2004 school year. The government undertook a student-centred appraisal of need. It measured the need of students with disabilities in the government system and that work is now being done in the non-government system. A number of programs have been implemented for youth at risk. However, I do not have time to go into them at the moment.

The youth workers in high school initiative was to target those students who might not need school counselling services but who might need another type of support to enable them to exist in the school environment. The government has addressed students at risk, indigenous students and students with disabilities. It has put in place a number of programs aimed at supporting them that will enable them to continue their education and that will enable them to achieve whatever they can as students in the ACT.

Small business

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism. The Leader of the Opposition was reported last week as saying that, according to ABS statistics, the number of small businesses in the ACT was in decline. Can the minister shed light on the true state of play for business in the territory?

MR QUINLAN: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves. I am reminded of that phrase, "Lies, damned lies and statistics."

Mr Smyth: Why tackle the ABS?

MR QUINLAN: I am going to defend the ABS, Mr Smyth. I am going to attack you and your misuse of ABS statistics. The ABS series Small business in Australia has been discontinued because it is entirely unreliable. The table the Australian Bureau of Statistics puts out lists numbers and proportions of small businesses. The table, which I hold in my hand, is very heavily qualified. All the numbers incorporated there have a qualification that starts with, "Estimate has a relative standard error of 10 to 25 per cent and should be used with caution." Other figures have estimates of standard error of 25 to 50 per cent and should be used with caution; and some are even considered too unreliable for general use.


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