Page 4170 - Week 13 - Thursday, 25 November 1993

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During that period we also had the Floriade, which was remarkably successful this year. I think it probably also contributed to those very good figures. Another very pleasing aspect of the latest statistics is that the dollar earnings by Canberra tourist accommodation houses also rose quite markedly during that September quarter; in fact, by no less than 16 per cent. That again is a very pleasing sign indeed. Also, in marked contrast to the national trend, visitors to the Canberra region over that period appeared to be extending their stays here in the national capital. Those ABS figures that I referred to reveal that during the September quarter - as I said, a traditionally very slow period for Canberra - the average length of stay was two days compared to 1.9 days during the preceding quarter, and also 1.9 during the September quarter of last year.

Madam Speaker, I think that the Tourism Commission's marketing activities recently have been showing some real signs of success. This will be reflected not just in the industry figures but also in jobs for Canberra, which is an extremely important aspect. I am confident that when we get the comparative results for the whole of the nation, in about six weeks' time, they will show that Canberra, or the ACT and our region, is the rising star of tourism in Australia.

Non-Government Schools Funding

MR CORNWELL: Madam Speaker, my question is addressed to the Minister for Education, Mr Wood. I refer to the budget decision to break the nexus between Commonwealth and ACT Government funding for non-government schools. You will recall that in the budget document it was stated that in the forward years, that is, from 1995, it is proposed that territorial funding will be linked to government schooling costs. Can you tell me what the actual basis of the ACT funding link to government school costs will be? Do the consultations proposed by the department with the non-government sector on this funding link include policy discussions as well as the mechanics of the funding allocation? Thirdly, how can these consultations take place between now and February 1994, as I understand that they are going to, given the intrusion - the fairly large intrusion - of Christmas, New Year and school holidays?

MR WOOD: Madam Speaker, first of all, I can say that we do allow for school holidays. I also point out that the world does not stop during school holidays. Some of us keep working, and I am sure that Mr Cornwell will. From time to time negotiations do intrude into some part of that. I think that is a reasonable and sensible proposal, Mr Cornwell. We reduced the non-government school budget this year by one per cent. We made clear that that was comparable with the reduction in the ACT government school budget. We removed the nexus and we have now to work through for the more permanent structure that will apply from next year. I understand the background of your question because the players in the non-government school sector are quite keen to join in the discussion on how that might be done.

Mr Cornwell: They do have an interest.

MR WOOD: Absolutely, and I meet with them frequently. We are discussing, in the first instance, a proposal with the providers - that is, the Catholic Education Office and the Association of Independent Schools. They are the ones who run the schools. We will be taking our suggestions to them, in the first instance, to see where we may go. After that we will be discussing proposals as they emerge with APFACTS, the organisation of parents for non-government schools.

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