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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2809 ..

Report on the Annual and Financial Reports for 1997-98

Debate resumed.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (3.57): I would certainly agree with comments made on this side of the house in relation to points already raised. Addressing the three recommendations regarding education, I would certainly agree with Mr Hird's dissenting comment in relation to recommendation No. 7. I think it was quite obvious to those of us who were at that particular hearing that Mr Hird is quite right. Measures to improve and assist enrolments at Copland College were well and truly canvassed. The wide range of measures that this Government and the department have taken were mentioned and brought to the committee's attention. It was also brought to the committee's attention that if other things could be done to assist that particular college the Government would be keen in looking at doing them as well, as would the department.

I think the recommendation is a little bit strange, to say the least, because the Government has been very mindful of doing all it can. This goes back to the very early days of the Government in 1995, when the question of declining enrolments, certainly in senior secondary colleges and high schools, was the subject of a very intensive review by the Ministerial Advisory Council on Government Schooling. That was mentioned at the committee hearing. Relevant issues looked at included even capping, which was rejected by the community who participated in that review. A number of issues were looked at. A number of steps were taken to assist that particular college and indeed the issue generally right across the Territory. I think there is much merit in what Mr Hird states.

Naturally, I will have a close look at the other two recommendations, and if we can improve upon any of the matters the committee comments on we will certainly do that. I have not checked everything in the report on those two yet. If there are any discrepancies as far as the department or the Government are concerned, we will be keen to act on those.

There is always a lot of politics in reports such as this. There certainly is in this one. During the time I have been in this Assembly I have detected that in virtually all committee reports there are at least one or two factors which indicate a way in which certain things can be improved. Accordingly, if that is the case in relation to particular items in this report, we will certainly be keen to look at them.

Mr Speaker, might I make one final comment in relation to this particular process and the estimates process generally? It relates to something I have observed not just this year but indeed in the last three or four years at least. I think many members of the Estimates Committee fail to do what I understand occurs in estimates committees in other parliaments and look at where governments could be more efficient in spending moneys and where moneys could be saved. I have seen the Estimates Committee in this place over the last few years show great concern about policy and its members express the feeling that the Government could be doing more or spending more money. I have not seen much emphasis on identifying where money could be saved or where wastage might be occurring. I point that out for the benefit of the Estimates Committee in future.

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