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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 869 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

The fact is, Mr Speaker, that at no time did this Government ever think of not having a consultative arrangement on preschools, because they have done it in the past. I think, Mr Speaker, that the Minister and his department are to be commended for the work that they have done on this problem, and the way they have grappled with it in the past. I look forward, as a member of that committee, to input not just from Belconnen, from the electorate of Ginninderra, but from right across the Canberra community.

MS TUCKER (12.12): I will speak to the motion and to Mr Osborne's amendment, and I have circulated an amendment in my name as well, which I move now. You need to note that two amendments in my name have been circulated and one is revised. I move the following amendment to Mr Osborne's proposed amendment:

Omit the words "1 September 1998", substitute the words "14 September 1998".

This motion basically is about affirming the role of the Education Committee in the Assembly, and the importance of the committees in this place being able to work with the community, and hopefully with the Government, to find solutions to problems. In the debate today there have been a lot of accusations about whether or not preschools are going to be closed, as the Government said they would be. Certainly, there were preschools named in the Auditor-General's report, and that was what sent alarm bells ringing through the community. Obviously, that was the reason why the committee thought to look at these issues. If there are inefficiencies, as was suggested by the Auditor-General's report, the Education Committee is interested in looking at that in an objective way and seeing whether those inefficiencies can be dealt with without sacrificing quality.

Mr Moore probably strayed off the topic a bit because he is uncomfortable with the whole debate. He did try to make rather a lot of the public accounts committee, which is not relevant; but he was not pulled up by the Speaker, so I assume I have the right to respond to that. We have, as a committee, made a decision to accept the reference from the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee, which is also the public accounts committee, for the sake of efficient use of the human resources in this place - that is, the members. As we know, we have a lot of pressure on all members here as a result of the number of committees and the restructuring of the committee system.

It was entirely sensible in this case that the Education Committee would take on the responsibility of looking at this Auditor-General's report. But the committee was quite clear, and it is minuted, that in fact this is an exception and that the public accounts committee would normally be the place where these Auditor-General reports are looked at, unless the committee, for specific reasons, chose to. So there really is not an issue there at all. I was intending to make a statement tomorrow, and I will still do so, to clarify why we have taken on that particular job.

The first part of Mr Berry's motion states clearly that preschool education is part of education. Obviously the community thinks so. The Government has tried to play games with words, and basically has failed. I think what it looks like to most people in the community is a broken election promise, because we did go to the polls hearing the

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