Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2514 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
Because education is so fundamental to the wellbeing of society, the Greens said they would support any measure which would see funding restored to the education budget, and therefore we would have supported Mr Moore's amendment. It has been estimated that it would cost $13m to maintain education services at current levels. However, the amendments that were proposed were not asking for this. Education will have to live with less, but a real cut to funding in this area is not on, and the Government has simply been asked to live up to its election promise and not try to get away with fiddling with numbers. Unfortunately, Labor and Liberal have joined forces to prevent these amendments from even being debated. This Government, as we have said before, is blatantly ignoring the fact that they are a minority government and should therefore seriously consider the wishes of the Assembly. When 10 members of the Assembly indicate that they are unhappy with aspects of the budget, they still dig their heels in and refuse to change the bottom line.
MR WOOD (2.03 am): Mr Speaker, I want to press again some of the points I made earlier in the debate and which the Government was understandably very reluctant to acknowledge. The Chief Minister a little while ago, in answer to a question, used figures and I think misrepresented the situation. The figures that are in the Hansard indicate quite clearly that there has been no increase in education expenditure and that there has been no real allowance, no full allowance, for salary increases. Therefore, the cut that is being imposed is a very definite cut. There is no question about it. She can equivocate and beat around the bush and say, "There is money here; there is extra money."; but, on her own admission, something like $4.7m that she said was extra money is for new activities, for something different, for new requirements coming in and not comparable with what was in last year's budget. Then there is $2m for increased enrolments, and that is a standard procedure. You just cannot make that comparison with the former budget.
The actual budget last year, on the Chief Minister's figures, was $200.1m. The comparable budget this year, excluding those extra items I mentioned, is $199.9m - effectively the same. There is simply no scope there for the full range of salary increases that ought to have been given. Mr Moore knows that, and that is the point of his complaint. The Government is wrong. It has tried to say many times that black is white, but it does not work out that way. Ms McRae gave a different perspective. She pointed out where those cuts are actually impacting in the schools. The cuts that do not exist are taking teachers out of our colleges and having all sorts of other impacts. So the cuts are there. They are real and genuine, and they are a problem. Mr Moore now has the opportunity to vote against this line, to send the Government out there to think for the next couple of days just what they might do about it. I am sure that he will be voting no to this line item.
MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Training) (2.06 am): Given that Ms McRae is going to speak again, I will save my second lot of comments until after everyone else has spoken. However, there is something I want to say first. As Mrs Carnell has said, the original budget for 1994-95 was $199,865,000, and we added the CPI adjustment of 4 per cent, or $7.77m, plus the $2m for the enrolment adjustments. We then added a further $4,680,000 for additional funding. What we said we would do was budget for the 1994-95 education figures, plus the CPI increase, maintaining education spending in real terms. That is exactly what we have done.