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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 861 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

As I said, Mr Speaker, I will support the motion; but I would like to put on the record that I do not support the manner in which Mr Berry raised it. A week ago Mr Berry said in the media that he would be disappointed if Mr Osborne and I did not support his motion. We did not see his motion. Mr Berry could not find the time to come and show me his motion until a couple of minutes before sitting time yesterday. Yet a week ago, Mr Speaker, Mr Berry was able to find his way to Ms Tucker's office to show her the motion. Did he bother to darken my doorstep? No. Did he darken Mr Osborne's doorstep? No.

This begs the question, Mr Speaker: Does he honestly want me to support the motion? Did Mr Berry genuinely want to muster the numbers to help the preschool community, or was it just another way of getting his name in the paper? If he wanted my support on this motion, why did he not come and see me and discuss the issue? My door is always open. I am always open to consider serious proposals which will benefit the community. If Mr Berry wants my support, the best way to get it is not by raising it in the media before he raises it with me personally. I have been on the record as saying that if the Labor Party ever sought my support for a change of government they would have to prove they are worthy of it. If Mr Berry's delivery of the preschool motion is any indication of the Labor Party's worthiness, I will tell you now that they have Mount Everest to climb before they reach the mark. Nonetheless, Mr Speaker, I do support this motion.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.48): Mr Speaker, I rise to put a little bit of historical context into this debate. If you were a person sitting in the gallery who had not much knowledge of the history of the ACT and had not followed the course of education funding and support in this Territory over the last 10 years or so since self-government, you could be forgiven for swallowing the line which Mr Berry and others placed before this chamber and the community about how deeply the Labor Party in this place cares about education. "When you take away the building blocks of education and you threaten the fundamentals of our system of education, you threaten the future of our community", I think Mr Berry said. Mr Corbell intoned similarly sonorous hand-on-heart comments about how deeply the Labor Party felt we needed to support education in this city.

I find it very convenient to keep clippings from what was said in the past. I went back to the very first Labor Government of 1989 and had a look at some of the things that were going on then. Mr Speaker, the first thing I came across virtually when I opened the book was a picture of a rally outside the old Assembly. That was over at the ACTAC building and there was a huge crowd of people. There is a poster above one of the people in this crowd outside the Assembly saying, "Kids Will be Failin' Because of Whalan". Here is a demonstration organised by the ACT Teachers Federation to protest against proposals by the Follett Labor Government to cut education services in the ACT. It says, "A level of cuts somewhere between $6m and $7m in the public education system per year have to be found, according to the Government of the day".

Mr Speaker, we have heard from Mr Berry today, of course, that preschool education is very important and that they consider it to be a vital part of the education system of this Territory. Well, what was proposed for preschool education back in 1989?

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