Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2692 ..
MR HIRD: My question is to Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Minister for Education. Mr Stefaniak, I sat here yesterday at question time and listened to an answer you gave to a question from Ms McRae on the possible sale of schools and the Government then leasing them back. On my way home last night, surprise, surprise, I heard on one of our popular radio stations that the Government does have plans to sell schools. That was not my understanding of the answer given in this parliament yesterday. Can you, once again, enlighten this parliament as to just what the Government is doing with this so-called proposal?
MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. You do not have to say what radio station it was, Mr Hird, I suppose. The simple answer to that, Mr Speaker, is that the Government will not sell off schools. Really, I was absolutely amazed and flabbergasted by the statement made by the Opposition's Ms McRae that the Government will, in fact, sell off schools. That is without foundation. That is a case again - we have seen it on a number of occasions in this Assembly - of the Opposition instilling fear in the ACT community just to score the odd political point.
Mr De Domenico: Not Mr Berry.
MR STEFANIAK: I will come to that, Mr De Domenico.
MR SPEAKER: Order!
MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I am really concerned about Ms McRae's statement to the press that we are proposing to sell off ACT schools, with children in them, to speculators and then lease them back. This wild idea is typical of some of the more far-fetched allegations coming out of the Opposition offices. The Government is not selling off any school in the ACT. It is irresponsible and totally self-seeking of the Opposition to attempt to drum up political mileage from such an allegation. I think I said yesterday, Mr Speaker, and you can see it in Hansard, which I have checked, that we were not considering any such proposal, and that no proposal to sell and lease back any existing school has ever been put to this Government. The people of the ACT should feel very let down by this Opposition because they have demonstrated once again that they will even sacrifice our schoolchildren for a bit of political gain. Mr Hird, I call on the Opposition next time to check their facts before they go public. It does nothing but instil fear and anxiety in the community.
Ms McRae: I was, Mr Stefaniak. That is why I asked a question. That is what question time is for.
MR SPEAKER: Order! You want the answer. Allow the Minister to answer the question.