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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 870 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Liberals say that there would be no cuts to preschools, and I believe that there is a cut in this budget. They said that real funding would be maintained, and I do not believe that that has actually happened.

Ms Carnell: It is; it has.

MS TUCKER: Ms Carnell interjects that there have been no cuts.

Ms Carnell: No; it has. Real terms is there - a 3 per cent increase.

MS TUCKER: All right; we will look at that. We are still looking at the detail of the budget; but basically the community at the moment feel there has been a cut, so we will clarify that.

Mr Smyth: That is because of political stunts.

MS TUCKER: Mr Smyth says it is about political stunts. I am sorry, Mr Smyth. If you understood how differently this budget is framed from the last budget you would understand that people have a problem reading it, in the community as well as in the Assembly.

Mr Smyth: I will address that in a minute.

MS TUCKER: We now see insurance, superannuation and so on in amounts of money, so you have to understand that people, even those with experience, have to have time to address the real funding implications of your budget. The second part of the motion basically supports the role of the Education Committee in looking at this. Of course, I believe that is important, as the committee does and as the community does.

The third part of the motion requires that no action be taken until the committee has reported. There has been debate about the time that we report. Mr Osborne's amendment was 1 September. There are a number of reasons why we feel that the middle of September is much more appropriate and that, basically, is because of the estimates committee process. There is a space between when the written submissions come in to the inquiry and when we can have the verbal submissions. If it was 1 September we would have only a few days to look at a substantial amount of evidence. Now, 14 September at least gives us a little bit more time. There have been arguments put up that this does not fit in with the cut-off dates for enrolments. Basically, the committee has always understood that information on enrolment projections for 1999 is useful for the committee, and in fact is something the committee would want to consider.

The other objection that has been raised is that there is a cut-off date for transfers into the primary school system. People I have spoken to in the lobby, the officials, are very concerned because of that cut-off date. I have spoken to the Australian Education Union about this and they make it clear that there have been several incidents in the past, or precedents, where there have been additional transfer rounds set up to accommodate late decisions. All I can say, really, is that even if there were no precedents, for heaven's sake, we are talking about two weeks. If you cannot change your administrative directions for two weeks - we are not talking about the last term of this year; we are

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