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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 866 ..

MR HARGREAVES: I figure I am allowed to say "12 preschools". Perhaps part or all of those things will have Elders "For sale" signs on them, perhaps at auction. I am sure we could take advice from our colleague up the back. The fact is, Mr Speaker, that when you close these schools they are gone. They cannot be put back, so you might as well stick a "For sale" sign on them.

Mr Speaker, it is about time people understood that preschools are not baby-minding services. Mr Humphries was good enough to give us a history lesson. Perhaps I can oblige with a little one myself. In 1970-71 I was privileged to be the president of the Haig Park Preschool Parents Association because my littlie went there. I joined that association because the preschool taught my daughter. At that time the school had a program of integration with disabled children, Down's syndrome children and ordinary children, if that phrase is correct, and they taught my daughter not to take a blind bit of notice of these disabilities. They taught the disabled kids how to get along with other people. They taught basic numeracy and literacy, and they taught community and peer relationships. Mr Speaker, the preschool at Haig Park taught my daughter, and I am very grateful for what they did.

As my colleague Mr Corbell said, preschools provide a sound base on which we build educational building blocks. The ACT has an excellent level of educational achievement which is recognised around the country, and we have an excellent retention rate. That is because we give the kids a good start. The preschool system is an integral part of our community. It not only teaches the kids; it also teaches parents how to teach their kids. The Education Standing Committee is concerned. It sees and hears glib statements in the media which say that preschool education is not part of the Education Department or not part of the education system. It is concerned enough about that to commission an inquiry, or to kick one off.

I am surprised that we have the filibustering from Mr Moore, who is worrying about whether it is this committee or that committee. Quite frankly, Mr Speaker, who cares? Actually, Mr Speaker, I care about it because I think it is indicative. Mr Moore was saying, "Let us have the Chief Minister's Portfolio Standing Committee have a look into it. They got it first. They got the ball first".

Mr Hird: They did get it.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Moore and Mr Hird ought to go together and talk in a phone box and get it right at least, because I certainly heard it that way.

Mr Hird: The Government sent it to the committee.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hird, order! You will have the chance to speak later if you wish.

MR HARGREAVES: This issue is: What are these two committees there for? What is the whole driving philosophy behind these committees? The Chief Minister's Portfolio Standing Committee, essentially with its PAC role, is to look at the dollar-driven agenda.

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