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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1120..

MR STANHOPE: The government is actively considering community policing and safety issues in the budget context and I will with great pleasure be delivering the government's budget on 6 June in which that question will be fully answered.


MRS DUNNE: My question is to the minister for tourism. Early in April, Australian Capital Tourism released an analysis of visitors who came to the ACT during the December quarter in 2005. The corporation said that domestic overnight visitor numbers had declined by 13 per cent in the December quarter. The actual numbers of domestic overnight visitors were 577,000 in the September quarter down to 425,000 in the December quarter, which is in fact a 26 per cent reduction, not a 13 per cent reduction. Why has there been such a dramatic reduction in visitors in 2005 when the September and December quarters in 2004 saw a 15 per cent increase in domestic overnight visitors?

MR BARR: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. My understanding, Mrs Dunne, is that the most recent figures have shown an increase in tourist visitors to the ACT. I contest the figures that you have presented as not being the most recent data for the territory. I believe that our performance in tourism has been excellent. The work undertaken by the tourism commission has been fantastic and I will continue to support their work.

Budget—functional and structural review

MR SESELJA: My question is to the minister for education. The Chief Minister has said in recent days, in the context of the report of the functional and strategic review, that some government schools will have to close because of declining student numbers. In the Canberra Times of 12 August 2004 the then minister for education, in the pre-2004 ACT election context, categorically ruled out through a spokesman the closure of schools by Labor in the next term of government, saying, "The government will not be closing schools."Minister, whom should we believe in relation to school closures? Do you stand by your government's pre-election commitment not to close schools in this term?

MR BARR: I thank Mr Seselja for the question but I think the real question is: what is the Liberal opposition's position? I note from a media release issued by the then opposition spokesperson on—

Mr Smyth: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Standing order 118 (b) says that the minister cannot debate the subject; he must actually answer the question. The question was not about our policy; it was about theirs.

MR SPEAKER: The custom here has always been to make some comparisons, Mr Smyth.

Mr Smyth: Except that you are not to debate the issue.

MR SPEAKER: I draw the minister's attention to the requirement to stick to the subject matter.

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