Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1123..
MR BARR (continuing):
The ACT currently has the lowest contact hours in the country. The increase in contact hours contained in this offer simply means that ACT teachers would be required to have the same face-to-face contact with students as their New South Wales colleagues and ACT Catholic school teachers. The change for primary school teachers is 15 minutes per week. For high school and college teachers the change is two hours per week—to start, as I said, in the 2007 school year. These new contact hours are still amongst the lowest in the country and are below the national average.
I believe this is a very generous pay offer that acknowledges the worth of our public school teachers. Teachers and principals in ACT government schools will continue to be the best paid in the country. Under this offer a graduate teacher commencing work in an ACT public school at the beginning of the 2007 year will receive a starting salary of $48,428. By the end of the three-year agreement that teacher will be receiving $57,618.
It is disappointing that the AEU has indicated that it is only prepared to recommend the new offer to its members provided it is accompanied by a guarantee of no job losses in any sector. I understand that the matter will be discussed further with members at meetings to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
I give this commitment: no teacher currently employed by the Department of Education and Training will lose their job as a result of accepting this offer. Any change in overall teaching numbers will be managed by natural attrition, keeping a balance between retiring teachers and the recruitment of new teachers.
I believe the government has demonstrated its goodwill and commitment in trying to reach agreement with the AEU and teachers through this revised offer. The next conciliation hearing in the AIRC is listed for Friday, 12 March 2006. I urge teachers to accept this latest offer.
MS MacDONALD: My question is to Mr Stanhope in his capacity as Chief Minister and Treasurer. Can the Chief Minister and Treasurer inform the Assembly of the projected budget outlook as reported in the midyear review?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Yes, I am pleased to be able to inform the Assembly around the midyear review and the budget projections that it contains. As members are aware, this has been an issue of some moment in question time, and certainly within the community and within the media, in the last 24 hours as a result of essentially allegations made by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in question time and elsewhere.
The midyear review, as members will recall, was tabled by the previous Treasurer, I think in February. It contained a projected end-year figure for this financial year and provided predictions into the forward years of anticipated operating outcomes. Those numbers were a deficit of $37 million in the current financial year, from an anticipated or budgeted deficit of $91 million—in other words, an improvement of $50-odd million—and a deterioration in the outyears. In the first of those, there is an anticipated operating deficit of $109 million, reducing to $36 million, reducing to $16 million. Those were the