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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 2218 ..

MS McRAE (continuing):

I think the Government has a major public relations problem. If in fact what they are trying to persuade us of today is true, then why on earth is every serious commentator on education, everyone who is involved in the education world - the parents and citizens associations, the Education Union, the Independent Teachers Association, the secondary colleges, the secondary evening college association - up in arms about what is happening in education? They are just dreaming it up, are they? What nonsense!

Mrs Carnell: Yes.

MS McRAE: "They are dreaming it up", says Mrs Carnell. I hope you are all listening. The transcript will go to everybody who has been involved in this debate, every person who has come to me, every child who has gone to Charnwood and found that their school has disappeared, everyone at Stirling who is worried about their future. We are told, "There are no cuts at all. The Government is giving money away to education. It is swimming with money. Therefore, there are no reasons at all why cuts should be made".

I am afraid that I am not the only one who needs to be convinced of this. An awful lot of other people in the education world find your answer less than convincing and find the situation that the education world is now in totally unsatisfactory, given the promises that you made. There is no use squirming and saying, "We had $7m in the brackets". That does not help. The promise was twofold: "We will retain money in real terms, and we will have free school buses". We have not seen a school bus going around for free. In fact, children are thrown off buses these days. Never mind about getting a free ride. They have to walk. The second promise about maintaining education money in real terms - - -

Mrs Carnell: Which is exactly what we did.

MS McRAE: "Which is exactly what we did", says Mrs Carnell. It seems that the entire education sector has missed the point. I think the Government has to do a lot of convincing. It needed to do a lot of work to convince the Estimates Committee, but it did not. It will need to do an awful lot of work to convince the 40,000 or so students in our schools and all the lobby groups that are involved with education that somehow what they believe is not true; that the truth is really something else; that they are all living under a cloud of delusion. I am afraid that a lot more work will have to be done.

I thank all concerned with the report. I believe that we have done the groundwork for some very positive and continuing work between the Ministers and the Assembly. The response to the report has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive. It offers the community the right sort of information about their money and the way that it has been managed. We look forward with interest to how the Government responds next year when the next budget is formulated. Having had some advice from Mr Humphries, perhaps we will change our tack a little in a way that he will not like one bit next time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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