Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 846 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
into one machine to 38 adults. I understand that the ratio in New South Wales is one machine to 55 adults. Mr Speaker, the fact that we have far more machines, on a per capita basis, than either Victoria or New South Wales is further justification of the need for a cap in the ACT. I commend the legislation to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Ms Carnell) adjourned.
MR BERRY (10.51): I move:
That this Assembly:
(1) accepts unequivocally that the Territory's preschool system is a fundamental part of the ACT education system;
(2) endorses the Standing Committee on Education's decision to conduct an inquiry into the future provision of preschool education; and
(3) requires the Government to take no action on closures or any restructure until the Assembly has considered the report of the Committee.
Mr Speaker, this issue arose as a result of the Auditor-General's Report No. 1 of 1998 in relation to preschools. The motion calls on the Assembly to accept unequivocally that the Territory's preschool system is a fundamental part of the ACT education system. That seems to be one issue that the Minister is not able to accept. I do not know how he can possibly argue that, or how he stood up in front of a crowd of defenders of the preschool system and argued that. The motion also calls on the Assembly to endorse the decision of the Standing Committee on Education to conduct an inquiry into the future provision of preschool education and to require the Government to take no action on closures or any restructure until the Assembly has considered the report of the committee.
Mr Speaker, as one would expect, reports from the Auditor-General are tabled and referred for consideration by an Assembly committee. As one would also expect, the community found out, as a result of the report, that there was a range of preschools that could be under threat. The community then had to work very hard to try to find out what really was the Government's agenda. There is an element of deja vu about this. I recall some years ago - I think it was in about 1990 - that the Government decided that it needed to do something about underutilised schools, and there was a move to close, I think, 25 schools in the first place. This gradually shrank, until another number was decided upon - 15, I think. There was a massive community uproar about the Government's approach to school closures. I remember hearing the then Minister, Mr Humphries, trying to argue the economic rationalist line for the closure of schools being based on the underutilisation of the schools.