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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 863 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Here is the clincher. Mr Whalan was saying:

The distinction between schools and preschools had been clearly made.

Well, well, well! There is a difference between schools and preschools.

Mr Berry: We learnt our lesson. You have not.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, Mr Berry and his ilk would like to pretend that that was an isolated break-out and that otherwise, apart from that small glitch in 1989, the Labor Government then and subsequently was actually very dedicated to education. Unfortunately, Mr Speaker, the record does not show that either. Mr Berry, you are dedicated to education only when you are in opposition. When you are in opposition you do not have to worry about dealing with any budget problems. When you are in government it is another matter altogether. The Labor Party promised that it would defend education. Public education, hand-on-heart, was very important to the Labor Party of this Territory.

What happened when it came to office in 1991? Of course, it moved to slash the education budget. We all recall the attempt in 1993 to take 90 jobs out of the education budget and maintain in the same breath that - - -

Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. If Mr Humphries is going to be relevant in this debate he should mention the 25 schools he was going to close when he was Minister for Education.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Because we have had quite a lot of irrelevancy in this debate, I would remind members to be relevant on preschool issues.

MR HUMPHRIES: In 1993 the Labor Government proposed to slash 90 jobs out of education - 90 teachers' jobs were to go - and that was to be at the expense of schoolteaching. The Education Minister at the time, Mr Wood, even maintained that they could take 90 jobs out without affecting the student-teacher ratio. He was rather hard-pressed in the course of the estimates committee process to explain how you can take 90 teachers out and not affect the student-teacher ratio.

Mr Speaker, the only period since self-government when education has faced a sustained period of sustained funding, when levels have been maintained in real terms, has been during the term of this Government.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I wonder whether you could cause Mr Humphries to mention the motion he is actually debating.

MR SPEAKER: Yes. I have reminded members repeatedly about relevance.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am responding to remarks by Mr Berry about the past on education questions as well.

MR SPEAKER: I want you to source it back to preschools.

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