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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2177 ..

Primary Schools - Work for the Dole Scheme

MS TUCKER: My question is to Mr Stefaniak as Minister for Education. Mr Stefaniak, did you consult with the Primary Principals Association, the Education Union, the P&C Council or anyone at all before applying for funding to have work for the dole participants in our primary schools? If not, why not?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question, Mr Speaker. It is an interesting one, because there seems to have been a bit of change of heart in one sector at least in relation to this in recent times.

Ms Tucker: My question was: Did you consult before applying?

MR STEFANIAK: The answer to that, Ms Tucker, is that groups were consulted. In fact, the department based its submission on the support it received from the Primary Principals Association executive back in May of this year, when officials gave a presentation on how participants would be involved in school communities. Nothing has changed since then, except perhaps something to do with the calling of a Federal election - I am not too sure. It seems that there has been a change of heart by that particular group. I had a discussion not long ago in relation to some of the problems the union saw, some of the potential problems they were a bit concerned about, and some other points.

I am interested in how this matter was raised only last week, when in fact a lot of work and consultation had occurred earlier. Indeed, some positions had been made known in about June, I understand, and then all of a sudden it seemed that the Primary Principals Association was not backing the scheme. I note that we have a Federal election in about a week-and-a-half's time. Perhaps that has something to do with it, although, Ms Tucker, I note from reading Kim Beazley's policies today on the front page of the Canberra Times that he also mentions now that the Labor Party would continue work for the dole programs.

MS TUCKER: The question has to be asked, but I will not ask it as a supplementary question, whether the first one was actually consultation or just a presentation. My supplementary question is that you have stated that you will not force any schools to participate, yet you have committed to providing a set number of places, 140 I believe, in your application. What will you do if you do not get enough schools who want to participate? Will you increase the training and support available to these young people and to the teachers and principals, who are at present very concerned about the current proposal?

Mr Moore: The question is hypothetical.

MR STEFANIAK: It certainly is hypothetical, but might I say that this proposal is not all that different from a number of schemes that have occurred in the past. You may not have seen it, Ms Tucker, but I note that on WIN on 18 September, under the headline "Parents and teachers are at odds over the future of the work for the dole in Canberra schools", the parent representative, Mr Trevor Cobbold, indicated:

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