Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1946 ..
Ms Carnell: Rubbish!
MR BERRY: Okay, even if it were not to, if what you are trying to kid us on is correct, the fact of the matter is that the $1.5m for computers and the $400,000 for the literacy program do. So, in any event you have deliberately created the impression that there was new and additional money going into education, and it is now going to be taken out of central office. We all recall the great, spirited and proper defence of central office that was put up by the head of Education as well as the Minister in the past, but we now note that there has been a strong element of hypocrisy in the Government's approach to this issue.
Mr Speaker, I would like to make a short comment in relation to the youth centre funding. I think what has occurred there has been outrageous. There was clearly a payback. We have seen this before. We saw it in relation to ACTCOSS when the Government made it clear to ACTCOSS that if their director did not disappear their funding might be in doubt; so their director fell on his sword in the interests of community services. We all remember Jobline or Joblink. I think it was Jobline. I think the title was executive director of the Civic Youth Centre. That person was also an active player in that and an active campaigner against the Government's actions in relation to that matter. Well, she has now retired. Ms Carnell smirks about the issue.
Ms Carnell: I did not. I was not even listening to you.
MR BERRY: A gratuitous smirk.
MR SPEAKER: Stop being provocative, Mr Berry.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, this episode is just a repeat performance of the vindictive approach that has been taken by the Government to people who challenge them on anything. They call it payback. But they will fight on. There are always fighters in those areas because they have been used to dealing with difficult circumstances for eons. Carnell governments will not bother them much in the scheme of things, except that there are some unfortunate casualties as a result. It was a decision of the Chief Minister. There is no question about that. There have been some casualties but I am sure that they will get by because they are a tough-minded mob and they are concerned about the services that they provide to the community.
Another matter that I would like to deal with, Mr Speaker, is the issue of computers in schools. This has had a significant impact on the education system, and the Government created the impression it was not going to happen. Be that as it may, the Estimates Committee took a look at the provision of computer services to schools and we discovered that there was inadequate equipment, to a hazardous level, I think, with the absence of proper ergonomic furniture for teachers in particular but probably for students as well. We called on the Government to make an early assessment of the ancillary needs associated with the installation of information technology. The recommendation was not accepted.