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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2967 ..

MR WOOD: The only priority Mr Stefaniak has is money. This is, I believe, the best school - repeat, school - in the ACT, and we should not do away with the short- and long-term benefits that come to children through attendance at it. Like Ms Tucker, I have had quite a deal of experience with it. When I worked in the then Schools Authority, I was once required to write a report about Birrigai. It was a good report, and if anybody then had an eye on doing some damage to Birrigai they could no longer sustain that argument.

As a teacher in our school system, I frequently went out to Birrigai with classes, and I have to say that the experiences I and those students had were absolutely outstanding. The students acquired a great appreciation for our environment, they acquired a great respect for it, and they learnt how to care for it. That is what this Government wants to put a cost on, because that is what is happening. Mr Stefaniak used a spurious argument yesterday in answer to a question and again today in his speech, saying that there were some 9,000 students already booked in there for next year and, folks, this tells you that we are not doing any damage to it, that it is popular, and that they think what we are doing is great. Mr Stefaniak probably does not know - I will allow myself to be corrected, but my memory tells me this - that you need about a year's notice of booking into Birrigai, or two terms' notice.

Mr Moore: It used to be two years. I do not know what it is now.

MR WOOD: No, it is not two years; that is too long. Schools know, and it is on their calendar, when they can make their bookings for Birrigai for the next year. If you do not get in early, you are likely to miss out. That is not based on what Mr Stefaniak has just announced; that is based on the record of the school and the knowledge the teachers have of how good it is. You have to be quick off the mark to make sure you get a booking.

Mr Stefaniak: Like I said, Bill, there are only nine days left for bookings.

MR WOOD: Only nine days left? What a lot of nonsense! See how many applications you get in nine days; but those nine days will be for one year hence.

Mr Stefaniak: That is right, because everything except nine days is full.

MR WOOD: That is right. You still do not understand. Now that you have made this decision, over the next year and more than the next year schools will reassess what will happen. The costs are going to go up and schools and students - - -

Mr Stefaniak: They already have and they have accepted that.

MR WOOD: We will see whether the students accept it.

Mr Stefaniak: They have. There are 4,623 or whatever.

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