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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1952 ..

Ms Carnell: Just sit down. We are very bored.

MR HARGREAVES: Chief Minister, I am surprised that you can say you are very bored because you have been missing for the greater part of this debate. You have been elsewhere. I do not know what you have been doing to get your jollies, Chief Minister, but you certainly have not been getting them here. If you are that bored, Chief Minister, go away and get your jollies somewhere else. Clearly, Chief Minister, you are not interested. I welcome you, but I invite you to leave.

Ms Carnell: Good.

MR HARGREAVES: Off you go. We do not want to see you anyway. Mr Speaker, very briefly, I was not going to do this but I am going to speak about the education budget. I want to express some concern and a little bit of caution about what we have seen. I know the Minister knows full well about this. The implications of school-based management have been very significant. I am not going to stand up here and bag the process because it is quite a good process and I do not mind that. However, it is a process which has to be introduced slowly. We are not going to do as they did in the States and chuck a barrow-load of money at it. In the States they introduced things very quickly because they threw a barrow-load of money at it and it was successful. We are not throwing a barrow-load of money because we do not have it. The answer to that is to introduce it more slowly because a lot of the people out there in education-land do not have the skills to handle it. They do not have the instincts to handle it and they have to be given time to acquire them.

When I was an officer of that department I felt that it was swimming along just a little bit quicker than it needed to, but it was still under control. My concern, which I want to express in this chamber tonight, is that the cuts to the Education central office are premature. I appreciate that there is room to move, not because we can see waste there but because the process of the introduction of school-based management was assisted by some of those people who are going to cop the cuts.

I refer particularly to the area from which I came. It was formerly known as the property management section and it included the school-based management unit. Within that unit there were people who had the corporate history of such things as cleaning contracts and security contracts - all of the administrative things that we are handing over to the schools. I warn the Government that if they eliminate that too quickly the corporate history is going to disappear. By way of example, there are rogue cleaners in the cleaning industry, just as there are in any industry, but those people in the schools do not know who they are. Our central office staff do know who they are. Those sorts of transfers of corporate history and corporate memory require at least two or three years, or maybe five years. Then, and only then, can we cut it out. That is only one example of many where this will work to our detriment. We will be putting our school management under undue duress and strain. We will not get the outcomes we want for a considerable number of years. The sensible thing to do is to have a look at those elements which exist in the central office on which the schools have depended and leave them alone.

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