Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 1910..
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, we continue to give a high level of funds to roads maintenance in the ACT; there's no question about that. I don't know why the board would have said that, except the board has made lots of comments. The attribution of that comment, I believe, would go back quite some months; it wasn't a new document or anything like that. So it is back in time a little.
For your satisfaction, Mr Cornwell, I'll come back with the list of expenditures over recent years. Certainly there hasn't been a vast increase in expenditure; there's no doubt about that. Funds move. My best estimate is that they seem to be fairly constant. But I'll get back to you with the detail on that.
Interest subsidy scheme
MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for education. Minister, on the day the budget was handed down, during a briefing provided for members and staff, the government was questioned as to whether the abolition of the interest subsidy scheme would be a budgetary measure. The briefing was informed that this measure was not part of the 2003-2004 budget-that it was not in the budget. Minister, why did the government deliberately cover up this budgetary measure?
MS GALLAGHER: I could obtain some advice on this, but my understanding is that it had no impact on this year's budget. The money is in the scheme. As the money becomes available this year, or even next year-I will check the figures for you but it is $37,000 or something-it will be reinvested into the non-government sector. So it did not have a budgetary impact.
MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, regarding the issue around the scheme, why were the non-government schools which would be detrimentally affected by this decision not informed that they were about to be clobbered?
MS GALLAGHER: The non-government schools were not about to be clobbered by this, to use your terms. I consulted widely on this. The decision about the closure of the interest under this scheme was made in response to the Connors inquiry. I consulted widely with non-government stakeholders and government stakeholders right, across the education community, about all the recommendations that came out of the Connors inquiry.
It is not custom or practice to allow a particular stakeholder group to know about a government decision prior to responding to it formally, as we did, through the Connors inquiry. Everyone knew, when we responded to the 17 recommendations-there it was, on the table. I did consult widely with the non-government sector. I understood that it would not be a popular decision amongst the non-government sector community. We have been through all this in estimates-we have crawled through it. It was a decision this government made, and it was the right decision.