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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 May 1993) . . Page.. 1616 ..

As Speaker, I have a responsibility to ensure that no objectionable material is included in the record of the debates of the Assembly. The words that were used yesterday evening, in a disorderly manner, were of such a nature that I have directed that they not be recorded in Hansard. I have not given this direction lightly. Freedom of speech in this Assembly is a very valuable right and one that should be protected. The Assembly does place limits upon its freedom of speech through its standing orders and practices or through special orders, as occurred on 13 May. In addition, the Speaker has a responsibility to ensure that the debates in the Assembly are conducted in a proper and orderly manner.

I have therefore concluded that, given my earlier rulings on the appropriateness of certain statements being included in notices of motions and questions, the Assembly's order of 13 May prohibiting the placing of a notice of motion containing certain allegations on the notice paper and the disorderly manner in which the member sought to place those allegations on the record yesterday evening, the comments made should not be included in the record, and I have directed accordingly.

Discussion of Matter of Public Importance

MADAM SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mr Cornwell proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The need to rationalise school facilities in order to maximise the education dollar.

MR CORNWELL (3.35): Madam Speaker, the sensitivity of the Follett Labor Government to the matter of an $18m overfunding in education, as identified by the Grants Commission, comes as no surprise to those with an interest in and a commitment to government and non-government school education in the ACT. The sensitivity, I suggest, is well merited because, despite unequivocal evidence to support the case for rationalisation, the Follett Labor Government has allowed the government school system to carry surplus facilities to the tune of 11,251 excess student places in 1992 and 9,072 excess places in 1993.

Lest anyone imagine from these figures that the situation has improved between 1992 and 1993, let me correct them. The apparent fall of 2,170 excess spaces in 12 months owes more to creative calculations than any real reduction. For example, the 1992 figures were given to me in three columns, building capacity, enrolments and surplus capacity, all nice and simple and positively crystal clear compared with 1993, which ran to six columns of figures, heavily qualified, and which took all of first term to prepare. It also took some prompting before the 1993 figures were made available at all. These 1993 figures can be made to show a choice of alarming statistics. On the original built capacity there are 15,353 surplus spaces in our schools, on site capacity 9,485, and on operating capacity only 7,516. I am content, however, to take the department's figure of 9,072, which can be broken up into 5,456 primary, 2,518 high school and 1,098 college excess spaces.

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