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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 1802 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

I thank members for their support of the Bill. I also thank members for their comments and, in some instances, for suggestions that it could be a bit better. I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 11.47 am to 2.30 pm


Government Services - Interstate Users

MR WHITECROSS: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. I refer to the Chief Minister's pledge on Friday of last week that she will make New South Wales residents pay for the services they utilise in the ACT, such as those provided by our schools. Mrs Carnell, have you or your department quantified the cost of servicing New South Wales residents in the ACT? How does this compare to the Grants Commission's recommended allowance for these services? Have you communicated your specific concerns to Mr Howard and the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Bob Carr? Could you table any analysis which you have on this issue?

MRS CARNELL: Taking into account that it is Tuesday and that we ended up with the quite substantial reduction in ACT funding last Friday, full analysis has yet to be done. But what we do know is that there are 1,200 school students from New South Wales currently utilising ACT government schools; that is, at the school level. We are not talking about CIT or further education. The return that we get for those students is in line with national averages. The Commonwealth Grants Commission gives us national average figures to teach those children in ACT government schools. As we know, the cost of education in the ACT is substantially higher. In fact, the figures range between 20 and 30 per cent potentially higher.

Where the issue is of real concern is at the college level, where, as we know, the Commonwealth Grants Commission covers the ACT for only the national average retention rates within our school system. In a situation where our retention rates are very close to 100 per cent, in the college area anyway, and where the national average is in the 75 or 76 per cent range, it means that there is an extraordinarily big gap at the college level in terms of what New South Wales pays us and what it really costs us to look after students. Yes, I have spoken to Bob Carr about the issue; yes, I have spoken to the Prime Minister about the issue; and we are currently in the process of getting a full documentation drafted to Mr Carr in line with the comments that I made on Friday.

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