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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 865 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: The economic adviser to Mr Quinlan. He wrote this:

If the Budget does attempt to reduce expenditure in some programs, the many critics who will step forward to voice their disapproval should have the decency to tell us how they would deal with the operating loss.

That, Mr Speaker, is the clear injunction on those opposite. If they think we can get away without reconsidering how we provide preschool services without restructure, without review, then let them tell us what their alternatives would be. Of course, they do not have any alternatives.

MR HARGREAVES (11.58): I do thank Mr Humphries for the history lesson. It is quite clear to me that he had the benefit of a good preschool education. I would like to pick up on something Mr Humphries did say. He was congratulating the Government on consistency, and I think we should do that also because they have been consistent. I refer to the closure of 25 schools and the introduction of school-based management so that somebody else will cop the blame.

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. First of all, the Opposition took a point of order a minute ago about the past. If they are going to be consistent they should stick to the subject matter. Secondly, Mr Speaker, in the last decade more schools in this Territory have been closed by Labor than by anybody on this side of the chamber.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order; but we are debating preschools and I am becoming very tired of hearing the word "twenty-five" mentioned in relation, obviously, to primary schools.

MR HARGREAVES: I will not refer to the number "25". I might refer, however, to twice 121/2, if I may. In fact, the consistency is remarkable because, as I understand it, the - - -

Ms Carnell: Mr Speaker, a point of order: Once and for all, I would like Mr Hargreaves to withdraw a statement that is simply not true, and that is that 25 schools closed.

MR SPEAKER: Twenty-five schools did not close.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I am very happy to withdraw; the Government did not succeed in closing 25 schools. My point, Mr Speaker, is not really about that at all. I meant to see those opposite rattled by that little element of guilt. However, I am actually talking about the current plans not to do away with schools per se but to make sure that they trade themselves out of business under their school-based management system. This, to me, points up a culture, an ethic. Mr Speaker, I am appalled at the Government's intention to put real estate profits before the education of our kids.

Mr Stefaniak: We are not. We have said that consistently.

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