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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2082 ..

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am confident that it is not. Certainly, issues of competition policy are always taken into account when these sorts of decisions are taken. My understanding is that the business has been valued as a commercial entity and the staff that are proposing to buy Ecowise will do so on a commercial basis. Therefore, competition policy would become an issue only if they were given an unfair position in comparison to people in the private sector.

Mr Speaker, there could be an issue of competition policy right now for Ecowise because they are competing quite directly with the private sector for a lot of the services that they provide while they are within the Government. Mr Kaine, I would suggest that under the proposed new position - proposed not by the Government but by the staff - the issue of competition policy is much less concerning than it is right now where a government entity is competing with the private sector.

Education - Merging of School Systems

MR OSBORNE: My question is to the Minister for Education. Minister, in October of last year your government colleague, Mr Moore, made a pre-election announcement that he intended to work towards the Territory's Catholic and government school systems merging. At the time of the announcement, the proposal was publicly criticised and comprehensively rejected - I can see Mr Moore's ears pricking up - by all of the education groups in Canberra, and especially so by the P and C Council, the Education Union, the Catholic Education Office and APFACTS. This rejection was based on the recognition by those groups, which would be directly involved in the day-to-day application of the merger proposal, that the two systems were fundamentally incompatible. While they did recognise that the Nicholls Primary School experiment had been working successfully, they also recognised that the two schools which were sharing that facility bore absolutely no relation to Mr Moore's proposal. Last week you announced that you had instructed the Government Education Review Committee to consider this proposal, given that you thought it had - I do concede that you did make this statement before you were rolled in Cabinet on the seating there, Mr Minister, and I am giving you an opportunity to respond; this is a quote from you prior to the coup - "a lot of potential and a lot of scope. We need to look at the possibility of Michael's idea of the Catholic system and the government system getting together - there is a hell of a lot in that". Minister, while we all agree that we need to have the best possible education for the taxpayers' dollars, what factors have convinced you that it is probable that merging these two incompatible systems would achieve better quality education?

MR STEFANIAK: I do not necessarily know that any look at ways in which the systems could cooperate better would necessarily lead to a merger. Obviously, both systems do have some fundamentally unique aspects which they would want to keep. Mr Osborne mentioned Nicholls. It is a very good example indeed of cooperation between the two systems. For those people who do not know and for the benefit of our

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