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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2197 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

The ACT is an equal partner with the States in determining the functionality and design of the new system. I believe that this gives the Territory considerable leverage in its investment in this joint venture. Mr Speaker, I am pleased to formally endorse ACT Community Care participating in this new joint venture agreement. I present the following paper:

Joint Venture Agreement to design and build the community health information system - Ministerial statement, 24 September 1998.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Ministerial Statement

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education): I seek leave to make a ministerial statement on preschool adjustments.

Leave granted.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, ACT preschool registrations have dropped from a 1998 figure of 3,956 to a total of 3,609 for next year. That is a loss of 350 children, or the equivalent of seven full-time preschools. Naturally, this drop is across the board, so there is no question of the Government closing the equivalent of seven full-time preschools and redistributing the children. We do, however, have to reduce some schools, suspend one for 1999 and close just one.

Mr Speaker, Stokes Street was suspended this year after enrolments dropped considerably and they have not picked up for next year. In fact, they have reduced even further from the six registrations at this time last year and therefore the preschool has, unfortunately, to be closed. It is a great shame that this closure will happen in the preschool's fiftieth year but, unfortunately, the demographics of Canberra have changed in that time and we need to provide for current needs and plan for future ones. We have a similar situation next year with Downer Preschool which has registrations of just 14. Downer will, therefore, be suspended for 1999. Registrations for 2000 can still be taken for Downer Preschool and, if sufficient numbers are registered, the preschool will be staffed for that year. Responsible management, and using the publicly endorsed factors, would indicate that Downer should close for 1999 but, in consideration of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Education, the Government will not close Downer Preschool.

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