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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (15 February) . . Page.. 243 ..

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question. On the back of that, can the Chief Minister advise the Assembly of the initial community reactions to the measures that have been announced to help the disadvantaged in recent weeks?

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, there has been a range of reactions to the initiatives. I do not need to repeat the reactions of those opposite because they have been pretty clear in this place. I note, for example, that the Director of the Council of Social Service, Mr Stubbs, said on WIN News last night, "We are somewhat impressed," which is better than nothing, "with the government's willingness to do a little bit of investing in the ACT community". We will continue to work closely with the Council of Social Service, in particular, in the budget consultation exercise.

The Canberra Times summarised the responses of the education sector to reduced class sizes. They said, "Unions, principals and parents have hailed the government's plan to slash class sizes as the most significant event for primary schools since self-government." That is pretty high praise, Mr Speaker.

Mr Haggar, of the Australian Education Union, has described the policy as a significant reinvestment in public schools, and Dr Ian Morgan, the President of the Council of P&C Associations, said that the plan is an excellent one that will undoubtedly make a difference. If you do not mind, Mr Hargreaves, I will continue my remarks.

Mr Speaker, I think there is a need for us to take forward the enthusiasm for those initiatives and change, and I am confident that people will see that in a very positive light, as I hope members opposite eventually will also.

Excell Corporation

MR CORBELL: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services. Does the minister think it is acceptable for Excell to take 90 days or more to pay subcontractors for work which is effectively under a ACT government contract, with some outstanding accounts dating back to October 2000? I can confirm for the minister that a number of subcontractors in exactly that situation have contacted my office. Further, Minister, is it acceptable that ACT government agencies such as Totalcare pay subcontractors within two weeks, yet Excell takes 90 days?

MR SMYTH: The government expects all contractors to honour their agreements. I am not aware what the agreements between Excell and the subcontractors are, but if Excell have agreements in place they should pay on time.

MR CORBELL: I ask a supplementary question. What action will the minister take to ensure that subcontractors are paid in a timely manner in the same way as contractors to ACT government agencies such as Totalcare are paid, and will the minister intercede with Excell on behalf of the subcontractors to resolve this situation?


SMYTH: I am very pleased to hear that Totalcare operates in such an effective and efficient manner. I am not aware of what the agreement between Excell and its subcontractors is. If Excell have an agreement, they should honour that agreement. If it is 30 days, subcontractors should be paid at 30 days. If it is 60, they should be paid at 60.

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