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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2225 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

It is in my interests and the interests of the Government to ensure that the court operates effectively and does its job. The present state of play with respect to the Children's Court is that it is not effectively able to do that job because of the problem that has developed there with magistrates declining to be appointed as Children's Court magistrates. That must be resolved, and resolved soon, because it is a serious problem. I hope to be able to do so with the support of members in the near future.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Part 15- Education and Community Services

Proposed expenditure - $523,570,000 (comprising net cost of outputs, $392,595,000; capital injection, $27,254,000; and payments on behalf of the Territory, $103,721,000)

MR BERRY (9.24): If there were no other reason for disagreeing with this budget and opposing it, this line would be enough. The education budget in the ACT has been the most dishonest budget of all. It was dishonest in the first budget of the Carnell Government in its second term and it is dishonest this time. It builds in $1.5m of cuts to the budget, which the Government promised it would not do. Members of the Government will climb to their feet here and say that they have provided certain amounts of money - effectively, only CPI increases in real terms - but they will not accept that the $1.5m that was cut from the bottom line last time was a cut to education funding.

They are misleading the community, they are misleading teachers and they are misleading the parents of children who go to our schools if they continue with that line. This budget is inherently dishonest. The sum of $1.5m was taken off the bottom line last time and that attack on the last budget has been structured into this budget, which has meant that there has been a cut in the provision of education services in the ACT. No denial can avoid that. No denial, no fancy language, no fancy dancing can avoid that issue.

I am surprised that this budget found its way through Cabinet with Mr Moore still in it, given his promises over the years to oppose cuts to education funding. Mr Moore has said in the past that he would even move a motion of no confidence in a government that tried to pass such a budget. Mr Moore argues now that there has not been a cut. But Mr Moore is the sort of person who would stand out in the bright sunlight, declare that it was midnight and shut his eyes to prove his case. The only person who would be convinced by that sort of approach is Mr Moore. He is satisfied with his support for this dishonest budget. That will be at his peril.

Not only has that cut of $1.5m been built into the education budget this year, but also $600,000 is going to be taken out of the college system to fund what the Government calls the teacher renewal program. That, too, according to the Estimates Committee, is a cut to the Government's education commitments in relation to secondary colleges. It is a cut to education. It is a cut that should not have been supported by Cabinet. It is a cut that should not have been supported by Mr Moore.

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