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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 868 ..

Mr Berry: Tell us why you did not go to the meeting.

MR HIRD: The fact is that Mr Berry is misleading this house by saying this Government was not in a consultative frame of mind.

Mr Kaine: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Mr Berry is quite capable of defending himself, but I do not think he has in any way misled this place. Nor do I believe that he intended to.

MR SPEAKER: Withdraw, Mr Hird.

MR HIRD: I withdraw.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR HIRD: Mr Berry is pulling one of his usual political stunts at the expense of one of the greatest resources that we have, and that is our youth, our young people. Mr Berry is well aware of a cut-off time. I was not. I have made myself informed of a cut-off time. You might well congratulate him, Mr Kaine. I noticed that in the chamber. That cut-off time, which is of concern to parents, is August. Mr Osborne's amendment identifies that concern, and I commend him for it. I will be supporting Mr Osborne's amendment.

I am a member of the Standing Committee on Education. That committee and I have given support to this inquiry. I have given my support to this inquiry. Those opposite seem to think that there is some secrecy about this Government undertaking something they do on an annual basis, and that is to assess preschools and to see the needs of the community.

Mr Kaine: What is the decision, so far?

MR HIRD: I am surprised to hear Mr Kaine say, "What is the decision?". It would appear, despite his accounting background, that he has not gone through or read the Auditor-General's report. I find that interesting in itself.

The current situation, I believe, is that the standing committee has agreed to undertake this inquiry. There are some requests for considerations, and they are of concern not only to this side of the house but to all members. Once again Mr Berry plays politics and stirs up the idea that we are going to close preschools. The fact is that we will make the same assessment that we have made in past years, on an annual basis, and take into consideration the needs of the students and the parents at preschools. At the end of the day it is up to us, the committee, to come back with a recommendation. Let me also say to those opposite that the committee will be seeking, as has been indicated, public input. The Government is looking forward to that standing committee's report. As Mr Kaine said, we have three months. Mr Kaine is again going to the Opposition side to get advice. I am concerned about Mr Kaine.

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