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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 970 ..

Mr Berry: No. Why are they not merging with one of their own?

MS CARNELL: Okay. Why are they not merging with one of their own? That just shows that Mr Berry has a problem with maps and geography. I understand that that is a bit of a problem. All of those who do have a good grasp of location and geography will know that ACTEW sits right in the middle of Great Southern territory. If you are to achieve logistical improvements, improvements in overheads and all of the things that go with being co-located, guess what you need to do? You need at least to look at a merger with the entity that is right next door.

Mr Speaker, we already provide water to Queanbeyan, which of course gets its electricity from Great Southern. There are many synergistic approaches, but at this stage we have not decided to go ahead with the merger, because the figures are not on the table. That is why the New South Wales Labor Treasurer and I set up a working party to look at the benefits of the merger to both Great Southern and the ACT. We have made very clear the basis upon which we will make the decisions - that is, to minimise risk, to maximise value, to maximise return, to protect the interests of the ACT owners of ACTEW and, most importantly, to give ACTEW a chance of competing in a difficult marketplace in the future. But it is interesting, Mr Speaker, that those opposite are just knockers. They cannot even work with their own colleagues in New South Wales, because they cannot work with anybody. All they want to do is say no to everything, and I think the crossbenchers should note that.

Chemical Use in Schools

MS TUCKER: I notice that Mrs Carnell does not always agree with the Liberal Prime Minister, mind you. My question is to Mr Stefaniak as Minister for Education. It is about chemical use in schools. As you are no doubt aware, Minister, after a motion from the Greens some years ago the Commissioner for the Environment inquired into the use of chemicals for pest control in the ACT and the report made a number of recommendations. The situation in schools was mentioned as being particularly concerning. The guidelines which you attempt to use as justification for your irresponsible management of this important safety and health issue are clearly lacking and require expertise from principals which they should not be expected to have. Can you inform the Assembly what you have done, as Minister for Education, to progress the recommendations of this report of the Commissioner for the Environment? How are you ensuring that even the inadequate guidelines are being implemented?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. She is quite right in saying the guidelines are in fact inadequate. Mr Speaker, I make it quite clear that the department has a responsibility to maintain a satisfactory level of safety and hygiene and to control pest infestations in its schools and preschools. The department takes its duty of care to staff and children very seriously. It does have specifications for the provision of pest control services to minimise the risk to the children or staff of being exposed to pesticides. Pest control services are used on a needs basis to control infestations.

Ms Tucker: How are you monitoring?

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