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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2961 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

In conclusion, I ask members to support this motion. It is very important that a facility such as Birrigai be appreciated for what it offers. If it is costing more than is deemed to be necessary, and that is quite possible because of the problems there have been with Sport and Recreation and Education running it, alternative ways to reduce costs should be found, but certainly not by reducing the teaching positions.

MR MOORE (11.56): I appreciate the fact that the Greens took the trouble to inform me that they would be attempting to bring this motion on this morning, so I had time to think about it. In 1989, when the then Labor Government tried to close Birrigai in a similar way, as my recollection serves me, under Education Minister Paul Whalan, I took a great deal of time and effort to oppose what he was trying to do. I believe that I have tried to put a great deal of time and effort again this year into opposing this form of closure of Birrigai Outdoor Education Centre and to preserve its programs.

The time we used to do that was during the budget debate, because this is a budget issue, and it is one of the issues we lost. The reason we lost, at the risk of going close to reflecting on a vote of the Assembly, was that Labor was not prepared to take the appropriate action to support amendments to the budget. That is as far as I will go, Mr Speaker, recognising the risky and thin ice that I am on. That allows me to explain that, having gone through that process, to try now to take each piece of the budget and force the Government by motion to do something opposite to what happened in passing the budget is simply inappropriate. I have to say that we lost this issue at that time. I will use the time now to try to encourage the Minister to recognise the importance of Birrigai and protect those programs. When he says that he is going to protect the programs but he is going to cut a couple of teachers from it, as Ms Tucker points out, how does that gel? The two do not go together. The programs are the teachers. That is how the program is delivered; that is what they are on about.

I am simply not prepared to support the motion, because I think it has to do with the budget. It is demanding of the Government that they do something other than what has been passed in the budget, and there are questions in my mind as to whether that is even in order. Even accepting that it is not going to be ruled out of order, let us at least look at it rationally in relation to what is going on in this Assembly. If we take this approach further, we could go through each one of the budget measures the Government has taken and order the Government not to proceed with what they won in the budget - and won with Labor support, effectively. The reason Birrigai is going to close is that the Government does not have the money I believe they ought to have in their education budget. The reason they do not have the money they ought to have in their education budget in order not to have to make this change is that Labor was not prepared to modify the education budget in accordance with the amendments I put.

That is what this is about. It is a motion that is too little, too late. It is not to do with Ms Tucker's actions, because she was certainly prepared to support those changes to the budget. At some stage we have to sit back and say to ourselves, "Are we going to let the Government govern and get on with the budget they have now, or are we going to keep trying piecemeal to pick out bits and pieces of the budget since we did not have the power to amend it?". If this motion were to be supported by Labor, the level of hypocrisy would be outstanding.

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