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So, unless we actually get the costs of services that we are providing down to somewhere in the vicinity of national benchmarks, we simply will not be able to produce the quality. Obviously, how much money we spend on education is a decision for this Government and this Assembly, but how we spend it certainly should be along the lines of national benchmarks. I referred to things like class sizes and quality of education. What we are actually expecting and achieving in outcome terms is very important to this Assembly, but there will be no cuts in education funding.

MS FOLLETT: As a supplementary question, Mr Speaker: Now that we have had history rewritten for us in the education field, I would ask Mrs Carnell about her comments in relation to health and her statement yesterday that she would bring that into line with national benchmarks. Does she, therefore, still intend to reduce the health budget by $30m?

MR SPEAKER: I will allow the question, Chief Minister, because we are talking about benchmarks.

Ms Follett: Both were in my question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes; that is all right. Go ahead, Chief Minister.

MRS CARNELL: Again, very much in line with our election commitments, over the next three years we will reduce health spending, simply because we have to. We intend to do something about the absolutely abysmal waiting lists in our health system - waiting lists that went from, I think, 1,789 when the Labor Party took office at the election before last to 4,600 today, a situation that is simply unacceptable. The only way we can address those problems is to start addressing the actual costs of providing services in our system. We will do that. We will bring the costs of providing services in health down to the level of national benchmarking. It is the only way that we can ensure that quality services are provided, that we can do something about waiting lists and that we can address the problem of having the fewest public hospital beds in this country - something that, I am sure, none of us here support. All of those sorts of issues have to be addressed. They cannot be addressed unless we bring costs and quality down to the levels of national benchmarks.

Economic Performance - Labor Party’s Record

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, through you, I direct a question to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, yesterday, in debate in the Assembly, the Leader of the Opposition claimed, as she often does, some interesting achievements on her part in terms of economic performance. Amongst other things, she made the claim, yet again, that the Territory had consistently balanced recurrent budgets throughout the time that she was Treasurer. It does not accord with the facts, as I understand them. Can you confirm whether or not the claims by the Leader of the Opposition are correct and, if not, can you tell us what are the facts?

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