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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2334 ..

MR SPEAKER: You can, Ms Follett. I just ask you to exercise caution on it.

MS FOLLETT: I would like to address some remarks to our own record in government on the education budget. We have heard any amount of public comment that there is no difference between Liberal and Labor on this matter. In my opinion, there could be no greater difference between the two major parties than there is on the question of education. The fact is that it was the Labor Party in government who granted the teachers their wage increase. That fact, I think, has been completely overlooked by all parties. It is something that I am very proud of. It is a wage increase that we thought was well and truly justified. It is a wage increase that we would have funded. If you look at our record on education, you have every reason to believe that. In the past, we actually supported the teachers in the Industrial Relations Commission on the question of a national standard for teachers' salaries. We, in government, supported their position and were very proud to do so. We, in government, granted them the wage increase. Had we been in government we would have supported their pay rise and funded it.

We have supported the schools in the ACT with supplementary funding where that was necessary, and we would have continued to do so. What that would have meant is that schools like Charnwood High School would have remained open. We would certainly not have done what the current Government has done, which is to withdraw the supplementary funding to Charnwood and, therefore, require it to close. We opened new schools as and when they were required, unlike the current Government, which has postponed the construction of new schools in Gungahlin even though they know they are needed. In their penny-pinching fashion on the education budget, this Government has actually put off the construction of new schools. We never did that. We provided - Mr Wood could give you the detail - new schools in Tuggeranong and the new school in Gungahlin when they were needed, and I am very proud that we did that. The provision of a free secular education is a fundamental to my party, and I deeply resent any comments to the contrary.

We went so far as to reopen in the ACT the schools that had been closed by the Liberal Alliance Government. This was not something the Liberals went out and campaigned on. This was their secret agenda, as it still is, only now they are closing them by stealth.

Mr Humphries: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It seems to me that Ms Follett is debating the budget. That is an item yet to come up on the program today. She should be addressing herself to this motion and not getting into this question about the budget. She is clearly out of order.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, the motion that has been moved by leave reads in part:

... her continued defiance of the will of the majority of the Assembly by failing to act upon the unanimous recommendations of the Estimates Committee;

For heaven's sake, it is fairly clear that, in the course of debate, one can illustrate the problems the Government has generated for itself on this issue.

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