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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3298 ..

MR MOORE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. The Minister has described welfare housing, which he has called public housing, and has not done anything that I asked. I asked him to distinguish between welfare housing and public housing. I understand that he has no understanding of the difference, which reflects very poorly on him. Having described welfare housing, will you now describe what you mean or what you understand by public housing?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Moore, the ACT has three types of tenants. About 70 per cent of our tenants are on complete social security benefits; a remaining 19 per cent or so are on part benefits; and there are 11 per cent who pay full market rent for our houses. Those are the categories of our tenants, Mr Moore.

North Ainslie Preschool

MS FOLLETT: My question without notice is to Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Minister for Education. Minister, will you reverse the decision that you have taken to force North Ainslie Preschool to go part time next year, and the compulsory transfer of North Ainslie's teachers, if, by the end of the school year, potential enrolments would justify a full-time program?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. I understand that Ms Follett might have a sensible proposal which I am happy for the department to look at. When I commented in relation to this in the press recently I indicated that the current system - Ms Follett would be well aware of it because it was used by her Government - is that enrolments are predicted and are taken. When the department has those lead times it places teachers and does all the organisation for the new school year. If she has a better suggestion we will look at it.

Ms Follett, this year the department's whip-round of the preschools and the taking of enrolments indicated that the numbers are somewhat down. I think at the latest count it was something like 130 students down, which means, naturally, a lessening of some teacher resources. I think all members would want to ensure that we did not go through the problems that were caused, I think, back in about 1989 when this Assembly first started. The Federal Government then - I think your Government might have reversed it, Ms Follett, to give you credit - wanted to close eight preschools.

It is important that resources are given where there are areas of greatest demand. Quite clearly, as I indicated in the media last week, the areas of greatest demand are in the new suburbs of Gungahlin where there is a young population. Where young families are moving in there is a greater need for preschools. Rather than close preschools, I think it is far better in some areas where the numbers are down to go to part-time preschools.

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