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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 867 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

The Education Standing Committee is to look at education issues. It is perfectly correct for the Education Committee to run such an inquiry. The spectre of 12 preschools closing is sufficient cause to have an inquiry in its own right. What is more important - education or real estate profit? I put it to you that these people opposite have more of an agenda to pick up some real estate profits and could not care less about continuing preschool education.

The Chief Minister yesterday made much of us being the clever, caring capital. Well, it is very clever to suggest that we can close 12 preschools. It is very clever, and I congratulate them; it is very clever indeed. They really care about the kids.

Mr Smyth: Did you go to a preschool, John? You must not have been to a preschool.

MR HARGREAVES: I was here, Mr Smyth, and I was not in the phone box. I urge this Assembly to support the motion in the strongest possible terms, and to support a reasonably short timeframe.

MR KAINE: (12.05): Mr Speaker, I must say that I have not been too impressed by the debate on this matter this morning, frankly, from either side of the house. I am going to support this motion, but I am not going to support it because of the argument put up by the Labor Party or because of the opposition put forward by the Government. What happened seven or eight years ago is totally irrelevant. We have had a bit of toing-and-froing about what the Government did and what the Labor Party thought. That is irrelevant. The relevant point is that today there are decisions to be made about our preschools.

I do not know that I have all the information that I need. I am not even sure that the Government has all the information that it needs on which to make a decision. We are being asked by Mr Berry to wait while an inquiry is conducted. That inquiry is to report in September - three months from now. Surely that report can put forward some useful information that even the Government would find useful. It is not going to affect the Government's priorities. Whatever comes out of that inquiry can still be put into effect by the Government during this coming financial year, so it is not going to affect the Government's objectives or expected outcomes for the year.

I am going to support the motion simply because it is a practical thing to do, and I am not interested in all of the rhetoric that has been thrown backwards and forwards across the floor this morning. All I can suggest is this: Let us vote on the issue; let us get the committee of inquiry started. I think the Education Committee is a quite appropriate committee to do that. The public accounts committee can look at the financial aspects, but the Education Committee should look at the education aspects. Let us get the thing started, let us get the report in September, and then we can all be better informed.

MR HIRD (12.08): Mr Speaker, let us have a little bit of silence and get the facts on the record. I hold up the Auditor-General's report which was sent to this place and presented in this place by you. It was decided in this place that it would go to the Chief Minister's Portfolio Standing Committee. This Government was concerned. This Government - - -

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