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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 291 ..

Ministerial Statement

Debate resumed from 10 May 1995, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MS McRAE (10.38): Mr Speaker, I am now going to respond to a ministerial statement that was made on 10 May last year. I did write my response at the time. It is quite interesting to read now what I wrote then, because the response then was one of major disappointment. I am afraid that, almost a year on, all that can really be said about Mr Stefaniak's statement on education to the house on 10 May is that it was a major disappointment.

The most notable feature of the Minister's speech was the complete absence of any reference to buses. Where are the free school buses? Of course, now they have been put on, courtesy of Mrs Carnell's approach to industrial relations; but that was not quite what the Liberals promised before they came to power. Now the excuse is that the Assembly will not let her. That is absolute nonsense. Why make a promise that cannot be kept? In any election campaign there is a clear obligation to make promises that must be kept. It is an absolute wimp-out to say that the Assembly will not now allow the running of these free buses. It was a major electoral promise and one, I know, that many parents supported. All I said then - and I think it is correct now - is that it was the first of very many disappointments that the community will have to face. Not only is the promise not mentioned anymore but also there is no indication of why it was not mentioned. That was in May. It was just hidden, hoping that people would forget.

The Minister also talked about school-based management, monitoring literacy and numeracy skill, information technology and sport; they were his major themes. School-based management was made much of during the election campaign. What have we found? What did it all mean when the Minister said that it would be progressively introduced into schools? "Progressively" is slower than a snail in Tasmanian election campaigns, I must say, and is fairly descriptive of the Liberals' approach to any implementation of their promises. The task force that was to investigate did come through with a report. Lo and behold, what did everyone say when they saw it? They said, "No, we cannot implement this". The Minister has now delayed. Again, why on earth was the promise ever made if they had no idea of how to implement it? Of course they want more time, and of course it is going to be given under the banner of consultation. But the real answer is that they want more time, and they want one hell of a lot more time because it is absolutely clear that the Minister is selling them a pup.

Schools have been allowed to run down, and the Minister has done nothing about the maintenance programs over the last year. You have been in office for a year and you have not only not maintained the maintenance program that we had but also slowed it down to the point where schools are having to put up with very unsatisfactory conditions.

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