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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2172 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: I think it did, yes, quite frankly. I am sure, Mr Kaine, that you have encountered occasions when the Canberra Times has got what you have said wrong as well. I am sure that you would not pretend always to have been accurately represented in that publication.

I am quite happy to talk to all the people concerned in this matter. Indeed, I have had discussions with a number of people who have not tied up to the agreement to date. They were not formal meetings in my office, but they were discussions in the many encounters that I have with these people in a variety of settings around this community. In particular, I have discussed this issue with the Bell family on several occasions, despite the fact, I should point out, that, in respect of a claim which is still on foot in the Native Title Tribunal, it is, strictly speaking, outside the court process and potentially even a contempt of the court process to engage in discussions when there are court proceedings under way. There are difficulties in having those discussions, but it is my view that we should attempt to do so within the bounds of what the court rules permit.

School-based programs

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Education. Mr Stefaniak, we have heard in this place and through the media that the Labor Party and others are opposed to free school buses and are proposing that there should be additional funding for school-based programs. I am interested to know what the government has done to enhance and improve school-based programs since 1995.

Mr Stanhope: Not much.

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. Mr Stanhope opposite interjects, "Not much." What a lot of nonsense. I would ask him to listen. He might like to go back to the debate this morning, which I will not reflect on. I listed a number things in that debate. We have to put this matter in context, Mrs Burke. In looking at what the government has achieved since coming to office in March 1995, we need to look at what we inherited at that time.

As has been said before, we inherited a budget in chaos-a $344 million deficit. By 1995 the ACT was burdened by high taxes, big spending, high and rising debt-proof that Labor could not manage money. Land was sold in the same way as the federal Labor government sold off the family silver to pay for its profligate spending. Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories were privatised to pay for recurrent activities. Labor in the ACT sold off large tracts of land, driving down prices-and we still had an operating loss of $344 million.

Our priority therefore was to fix up the economy. I think we have pretty well done that. There might be a bit more work to do, but a big effort has been put in. However, we also promised that we would continue to spend on the educational future of our children, something the lot opposite did not do when they were in office from 1991 to 1995. We undertook to maintain funding in real terms, and we did. I am not going to go over that again. In summary, we not only maintained it but increased it by about $40 million. I referred earlier to the report by KPMG last year.

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