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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2200 ..

Mr Berry: "No, I am only the Industrial Relations Minister". Why would you want to know?

MR DE DOMENICO: No, nor should I have been. I take that comment from Mr Berry and I will answer it too. It is wonderful that Mr Berry is the one who talks about political interference, when it suits him. I am delighted with Mr Houlihan's appointment. I know that some members of the trade union movement are not delighted with Mr Houlihan's appointment, but this Government and the public service that works for this Government will not rely on advice as to whether the trade union movement is happy or not happy with the people we appoint to give this Government advice. Mr Connolly, I am delighted that Mr Houlihan's appointment was made. No, I was not consulted prior to Mr Houlihan's appointment; but I was advised after his appointment, and I think Mr Houlihan is a great appointment.

MR CONNOLLY: By way of supplementary question: What is the cost of the Houlihan consultancy and how was Houlihan selected? Will you table the terms of reference for that selection?

MR DE DOMENICO: I do not know what the cost was, Mr Speaker, but I will take those questions on notice and get back to Mr Connolly as soon as I can.

Education Funding

MR KAINE: I ask a question of the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, there has been considerable public debate since the tabling of the 1995-96 budget concerning the funding of education. Much of that debate has been uninformed; some of it has been based on a misunderstanding of the budget base; some of it has, in my opinion, been deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. Will you inform the Assembly and the community of the full facts about the education appropriation for this year, in simple terms that even the Opposition can understand? In particular, will you answer the question whether this year's budget appropriation for education increases the provision over last year's, reduces the provision as compared to last year's, or maintains the level of expenditure that was achieved last year?

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Kaine. I think one of the great furphies that have been put around about our budget has been with regard to cuts in education spending. I use the word "cuts" because that is the word that has been used around this place and around the union movement as well. In fact, education spending has gone up, not down. This Government's commitment was to maintain education funding in real terms based on the 1994-95 budget. That commitment has been kept in the 1995-96 budget and will be kept for the life of this Government. In other words, we have factored in CPI increases for the whole term of this three-year budget for education, which I must say is the only area that has that luxury.

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