Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4690 ..
stakeholders without having heard from the department exactly what was being proposed.
It seems to me that in doing that he was just making the situation worse for those who were going to be affected by the possible changes. To not have been briefed by those responsible for putting the paper together and those responsible for trying to meet the requirements of the efficiency dividend before going to the public is in line with the general approach taken by the Canberra Liberals of being opposition for opposition’s sake, a point already made here this morning.
I consider the timing of the release of the paper during the school holidays was not appropriate, and I was pleased to see that an extension of this timetable was given to allow teachers in the first place to consider the implications of the cutbacks and consult with colleagues on their return from leave.
The one per cent efficiency dividend for government departments passed as part of the 2010-11 ACT budget is something the Department of Education and Training must manage now and into the next two financial years, with an additional 1.5 per cent efficiency dividend that will need to be found. The amount of funding is significant—$4 million in this financial year. I was advised the consultation paper was developed after a comprehensive internal process within the key areas of the department aimed at resolving a way of operating within the reduced budget.
Late on Monday evening we heard through the media that the Department of Education and Training were revising their original consultation paper. Dr Watterston, the chief executive officer of the department, has indicated that this was part of the planning around the efficiency dividend consultation process. I do think that it is in part, and wisely so, in response to the concerns raised by stakeholders, by parents, when they had finally obtained copies of the paper.
While this was supposed to be an internal working document, I think it was very naive of the department to think that planned changes of the magnitude proposed would not have found their way to those most affected, and, in fact, should not have been kept from those most affected. It also seems that there was insufficient thought given in the department to the timing and content of the original paper, and we now wait with interest to see the consultation process following the release of the revised paper.
In regard to Mr Doszpot’s motion today, the ACT Greens will not be supporting that particular motion. We consider things definitely could have been done better by the department. I have stated that quite clearly, and we are calling on them to improve the way they approach the efficiency dividend process. I mentioned earlier that achieving savings under this budget measure is difficult, and I am sure the department acted in good faith in coming up with measures they considered were worthy of putting out to teachers for consideration. It was the consultation phase with stakeholders in the school community that was not properly addressed in the process.
The ACT Greens will be putting forward an amendment to Mr Doszpot’s motion. We are putting forward a shorter motion that seeks to acknowledge the importance of quality education for all students, the vital role of education in the community, the