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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3217 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

to enlighten the children on the fact that there were differing points of view on the topic of Santa. Not surprisingly, Minister, the parents are not exactly thrilled by this explanation. Mr Stefaniak, is it government policy for teachers to explode the harmless beliefs of seven- and eight-year-olds just before Christmas, and do you believe the teacher's answer is adequate?

MR STEFANIAK: That is absolutely amazing. I do not think I have ever heard of a teacher who has tried to persuade a class that there is not such a thing as Santa Claus. Certainly, it is not government policy. The parents may well have a point. Children at various ages probably might start thinking to themselves that maybe there is not such a thing as Santa Claus. There are a lot of people opposite who believe in Santa Claus still - and they are long out of primary school - in their attitude to economic management.

Mr Moore: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am concerned that the Education Minister may get himself into deep water here and it will be in Hansard that there is or there is not a Santa Claus. I would hate that to happen. He may mislead the house, so I would ask him to be careful.

MR STEFANIAK: I do not know that that is a point of order, but it is an interesting point.

Mr Rugendyke: On that point of order, Mr Speaker, I can confirm that there is a Santa Claus.

MR STEFANIAK: I thank Mr Rugendyke for that observation. Quite clearly, I am not going to comment one way or the another on whether there is or there is not. My five-year-old and four-year-old certainly believe that there is a Santa Claus.

MR SPEAKER: Order! If this noise keeps up, none of you will have your stockings filled at Christmas time.

MR STEFANIAK: Ms Tucker, Mr Berry and other members opposite might well think there is a Santa Claus too. I do not know. I would be interested in their views. Far be it for me to say whether there is or not. Obviously, parents are concerned. It may well be sensible, Mr Osborne, if suitable members of the Assembly such as you, Mr Hird and I dress up and go to the school and put the alternative point of view. If parents are generally concerned, you might like to give me the name of the school and I will make sure that the point you raise is taken up in a proper fashion.

MR OSBORNE: I ask a supplementary question. What is the Government's position on the Easter bunny? Can we expect a repeat performance? What about explaining some government myths, like the story about how competition policy came and everyone lived happily ever after? Can we get your teacher to come and put paid to that one, Minister?

MR STEFANIAK: On the Easter bunny, Mr Osborne, I think the Government's position has been quite clear for many years. We will neither confirm nor deny that there is an Easter bunny.

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