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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 October 2010) . . Page.. 4696 ..

term where they work to build the classroom teacher’s capacity and teaching methods that are best suited to Indigenous students’ needs.

What has the Australian Education Union said about this? It has said that these cuts are concerning and that they fly in the face of federal initiatives to enhance the outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Reducing the central positions will mean a loss in the systemic coordination of programs aimed at closing the gap and the ACT government’s multicultural strategy. This is on the back of Terry Williams’s statement—the chair of the IEB—at the estimates hearings when he said, “All I can say is that truly the allocation of funds directed to Indigenous people in the ACT is horrific.” And here is Andrew Barr looking at making further cuts.

As Mr Seselja pointed out, this is about the failure of the government to make the hard decisions in the 2009-10 budget. They ducked the hard decisions then. Rather than the minister saying, “We’re going to take responsibility; we’re going to look at where these cuts should be made,” they squibbed it. They put it off to another day. They handed it over to the department and said, “You look at where you can make the cuts.” They called it an efficiency dividend because that sounded better than “cuts”.

We now see the government reaping the rewards of what they sowed back in the budget in 2009-10. Rather than making the hard decisions about cutting the arboretum or government advertising or roadside art, affecting TAMS—those projects that Mr Seselja outlined—they squibbed it. The Greens are equally culpable and responsible for what we see today, which is this decision and the fruits of that decision to not take action.

The Liberals are often criticised for lacking vision and only being interested in cuts. They are characterised as mean and tricky. Let us be very clear about what we mean when we say we need to make cuts and we need to prioritise. If you fail to do that as a government or as a minister and you do not take responsibility then the consequence down the track is that the people who can least afford it in our society—the disadvantaged, the disabled, our Indigenous kids—are the ones that will pay the price. That solely and wholly comes back to a failure in leadership and the lack of ability to make the hard decisions by Mr Barr, the Treasurer, the Chief Minister and the complicit Greens who signed up to this strategy that is now reaping such terrible rewards for the students in our education system.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.18): I would like to say a couple of words about Ms Hunter’s amendment because I think it is worth putting very clearly on the record what the amendment seeks to do. This amendment is writing a blank cheque to the government in its plans to make cuts in these areas. Mr Doszpot’s motion says that there are certain areas that are so critical you should not be cutting in those areas. The Greens had the opportunity to support that. I would again urge them to withdraw this amendment because it is writing a blank cheque to the government.

Instead of quarantining those areas, those critical services, their amendment simply calls on the government to thoroughly consult with the broader school community on the impact of any proposed changes to student services. They cannot even use the

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