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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3498 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

This is no cheap option that the Minister has put into his paper. It is an expensive option, albeit a very important and necessary one. It simply cannot be taken on trust.

I have not heard the Minister - or the Treasurer, who is with us at the moment - stand up in this debate and say, "I give you an absolute assurance that if there is a shortage of money we will fund it. We will go to the Treasurer's Advance or we will go somewhere else and find some new money for it". Do not forget that I have a continuing cynicism about the Minister, because these same agencies are struggling to maintain the high quality of their operations with the pressures imposed on them by the introduction of the SACS award. They are being squeezed already. There was a most difficult circumstance arising for them.

I have not spoken to the Chief Magistrate. Other members may have. I only heard him on the radio the other morning. That is my knowledge of what he said. He was very cautious and, sensibly, very guarded. My judgment on what he said is that he was keen for this to be introduced and he would use these provisions. It would seem to me that the one or two people a year I heard the Minister talk about at the round table will grow to rather more than that. It is pretty clear to me that there is a problem with financing.

I give Ms Tucker credit for raising the issue. There is a problem and I think we need a solution. For Ms Tucker, I think this is a second-best solution, but I will support it. I think it needs a quick review, a review in this timeframe, and I also want to hear the Minister give his assurances about new money if it is necessary. Believe me, it will be necessary.

MR OSBORNE (5.27): I agree that this is a serious issue. I think that three years is far too long before a review. If we are getting it wrong, a couple of months can do damage to these young people. So I will be supporting the amendment moved by Ms Tucker.

However, in my discussions with Ms Tucker I was not aware of the exact wording of the amendment. I have now had a look at the wording and I think proposed subsection (2) could result in a stalemate and no agreement between the Minister and the Assembly. I am proposing an amendment to that. I have not quite finished the wording. I will do that in a second. I would be comfortable with the Minister informing the Assembly of the terms of reference for the review prior to the review being undertaken. There could be delays and stalemates over negotiations between the committee and the Minister. Having the Minister inform us of what the terms of reference will be is probably a more sensible option and way forward. I will be supporting Ms Tucker's motion, with my amendment.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (5.29): I sort of understand what Mr Osborne is doing. I can also count. Nine beats eight any time. Ms Tucker's new amendment is much better than the old one. I do not necessarily agree with some of the things she said, but I will not canvass that. This one is better worded. Mr Osborne's amendment is the only way we could do it. I suppose it is acceptable. I do not know whether I could change Mr Osborne's mind. I doubt whether I could change anyone else's mind.

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