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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2333 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

The Government does not even understand the concept of open and consultative government. If my memory serves me right, this question of open and consultative government was a key issue in the decision made by the Independents and the Greens as to whom they would support for the government of this Territory. I remember very precise, very detailed consultations and discussions on the precise nature of the open and consultative government I would form were I in a position to do so. Key amongst those issues was the formation of the budget, and members of this Assembly required quite specific reassurances and even undertakings on how that budget would be formulated. What we have seen from the current Liberal Government is a complete denial of any of that openness, of any of that consultation. I do not believe that this Government has any comprehension of what is meant by openness, by real consultation, as opposed to just issuing the edict, "Here is your budget. Here is your education budget. Believe what we say. Do not look at what we do". That is precisely the attitude of this Government. The failure of the Government to act to amend those lines in the budget has been in direct defiance of the vote of this Assembly, not just on the Estimates Committee but on the subsequent motion carried by this Assembly. As I have said, that vote arose as a result of the unanimous report of the Estimates Committee.

The area that has been most taken up in the public debate is the education area, and I want to say a few things about that. It is not the only important area, but it is probably the one that has had the most attention. Recent events demonstrate that Mrs Carnell has said that it is time for action in the area of mental health. We have heard from Mrs Carnell on this matter. The problem is that the Estimates Committee said last month that we need additional funding for this, and Mrs Carnell has done absolutely nothing on either the Estimates Committee report or the Assembly's motion that she reconsider her Government's position on that Estimates Committee report. As I said, on Tuesday the Assembly passed a motion calling on the Government to adopt that recommendation of the committee. I should point out that the Estimates Committee, as I have said before, represented all parties in this Assembly - absolutely everybody. It involved two ALP members, two Liberal members - Mr Kaine and Mr Hird - a Green and an Independent. Those decisions were supported by all of those members, and the motion that was passed on Tuesday was again supported by the Assembly.

I have said before that the education issue has taken the higher priority of the two remaining issues to be addressed - education and mental health. I would like to correct some of the misrepresentations we have heard in the public arena about the Labor approach to education.

Mrs Carnell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think the Leader of the Opposition is straying somewhat from the motion at hand and is starting to debate something that is on the notice paper for later today. I am happy to debate the motion.

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, in speaking to my motion, I believe that I am entitled to offer some illustrative material.

Mr De Domenico: As long as you do not pre-empt debate on the Appropriation Bill.

MS FOLLETT: I am certainly not pre-empting debate, Mr Speaker.

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