Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2133..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
child protection services in the way that we did and that we should not have sought to employ an additional 100 child protection workers-a circumstance that we inherited from the former government?
Let us go through these issues. Why are we asking the community to pay rates at the present level? It is because of what we inherited from the former government in disability services. It is because of what we inherited from it in child protection services, or a lack of them. It is because of what we inherited from it in a totally and inappropriately underfunded emergency services arrangement.
There has been a 49 per cent increase in funding for emergency services because of the maladministration of the former government. The former government did not fund the gaps. The community reaped the consequences of the maladministration of the former government. Let us look at a symptomatic issue of something as simple as the Narrabundah caravan park. In the execution of that policy, have members ever seen a bigger mess? The Liberals should be paying for the Narrabundah caravan park. Brendan Smyth and Bill Stefaniak, the two members of the cabinet that made that decision, showed a total lack of understanding of their responsibilities.
That is symptomatic of the mess left by the former government, a mess that has had to be cleaned up by this government. That cost is attributable directly to the former government, its negligence, its lack of concern and its total disinterest in community services. There were gaps in disability services, child protection and emergency services. The former government had no regard for people at the edge in relation to issues such as Narrabundah caravan park. Under the former government there was a non-funding of wage claims and a complete non-funding of all public service wages. That is why we are charging rates.
DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training and it refers to cost comparisons between large and small schools. On 3 May in the Assembly the Minister said the average cost per student in a primary school with fewer than 100 enrolments is $18,000 a year. The next day he said the average cost per student in a larger-whatever he meant by that-primary school is $8,000 a year. Only two small schools could be said to cost close to $18,000 per student. One is a small rural school and the other is a small school with several disability units. The real figures are about $12,000 per student in small schools as opposed to $9,000 in much larger schools. So, in effect, he overstated the extra cost of these students more than threefold. Will the Minister advise the Assembly what steps he will take to apologise to those schools and communities that have been impacted by his incorrect statements and to set the record right with the wider community?
MR BARR: No, my comments were not incorrect. Dr Foskey has made a series of false assertions in her question. I will not be correcting the record; there is no need to. The statements I have made are correct. The costs range between $8,000 and nearly $20,000 in some of the smaller schools-in fact, I understated the top end. So I see no reason at all to make any retraction of those statements. Even if one works on the basis of Dr Foskey's figures, which I do not agree with, she has understated the cost of small schools in her presentation of figures. The person who should be apologising is