Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1924 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
repairs and maintenance for schools, preschools and community facilities; information services; support to preschools; licensing and monitoring of child care centres; care and protection of children; services to young people with developmental difficulties or delays; adoption and foster care services; management of youth justice ...
The loss of 75 jobs from an establishment of about 400 positions in that area will impact on the provision of services to the education system. You just cannot avoid it. Those of us with a memory of suggestions from Mr Osborne that cuts be made to the central office will recall the spirited defence of the entire central office by the head of the department and by the Minister. They are right to defend them, but they are not right to do an about-face on the issue to try to recover cuts in the education budget and pretend that nothing has happened. The facts of the matter are very clear. There are cuts to education. They are significant cuts and they will impact on the quality of education services to future generations.
It is quite disingenuous of the Government to present this budget as a maintenance of funding in real terms for education. It will impact on the services provided to our children, and the overall standing of education in our community will be affected as a result. Mr Moore would surely vote against this budget if he intends to stick with his promise made so often that it became tedious. It was a promise so often repeated that it was like a cracked record. I hope that he sticks to it, though he was reported as making the statement that the $1.9m contribution to the operating loss was taken out before the budget was balanced to meet CPI increases. At the end of the day $4.2m was added to the budget. That is around about the CPI increase and some other minor adjustments. Almost all of that was soaked up by the contribution to the operating loss, the provision of extra services for computers, the $400,000 to support literacy in schools and the contribution to the Canberra Institute of Technology.
It is quite clear that this is a budget with significant impacts on our education system and that it must not be passed unless it is adjusted in accordance with the Chief Minister's commitment to the people of the ACT before the election. As time passes the Government has less and less regard for its commitments and it is thumbing its nose at the ACT community. Once they are ensconced in office they feel that, with the support of the Osborne group, they can thumb their nose at the electorate. Having won the glittering prize, they are saying, "The rest of you can just sit back and smile because we are going to do it to you whether you like it or not". This was a breach of an election promise that cannot be tolerated in the context of a budget debate.
MR CORBELL (5.05): The appropriation unit we are now dealing with includes youth services. It is that particular area that I want to focus on this evening. The issue that I was most concerned about in the Estimates Committee hearings, and am still concerned about in this debate tonight, is the reduction of funding to the Civic and Woden youth centres. This is an issue that I believe underscores what, unfortunately, is becoming an increasing trend in budgets here in the ACT, where we are seeing a focus away from groups with special needs towards a more mainstream approach which ignores people on the margins, particularly young people, who need security and certainty from government that their services will continue to be provided as much as mainstream services need to be. That is not what we saw in relation to the Civic and Woden youth centres.