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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2359 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

in the electorate of Ginninderra do. For example, Charnwood Primary School has a very good mentoring program and a program to deal with bullying in schools. That report, called Educated views, was selectively quoted in the Chronicle and, of course, my political opponents have chosen to use that newspaper report as the basis for personal criticism of me both inside and outside this chamber.

Let me put that excerpt into context and let me quote the part that the Chronicle chose not to include in its story. Referring to the free bus scheme, I wrote:

I must acknowledge that the initiative will benefit parents struggling to meet the travel costs of their children. However, it is clear that the "free school bus" initiative cannot be classified as education spending but rather effectively as pseudo-tax relief for families that qualify for this benefit. I strongly urge the Government to address the current deficiencies outlined in this report in future funding allocation genuinely relating to the Education portfolio.

Of course, the money that we are talking about is not coming out of the education budget; it is coming out of the Urban Services budget, so it is not for spending on education. It is a crafty way for the government to buy new buses and to make bus travel for some students fairer than it has been. I will take the slings and arrows directed at me by my political opponents and will not be supporting Mr Berry's amendments.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (4.55): Mr Deputy Speaker, in speaking to the proposed expenditure for the Department of Urban Services, I want to put on the record that Mr Rugendyke is quite right-it is not Education money; it is Urban Services money. As Mr Rugendyke said, it is something that is going to help families-indeed, it will help a lot of battling families. It is something that we promised in 1995. This was a significant promise. We were elected and one could assume that this may well have had some influence.

Firstly, I might briefly mention a few things that Mr Berry said about this money. I think I mentioned this in an earlier debate but it is certainly important to go through it again and put it on the record in this debate. Mr Berry, and indeed the Labor Party, do not have a very good history in respect of finances. I think Mr Berry's budget blew out on four separate occasions when he was health minister. Of course, we had the much talked about $344.5 million deficit which we have been working at reducing since we got into office.

Mr Berry may well be able to fund his promises by borrowing but I do not think that is a terribly good way of doing it because you if you borrow you get into a greater deficit. I know that he does not mind borrowing but that might not be what Mr Quinlan would like to see. He is talking about $27 million but how can he fund the promises he is making?

The $7.98 million is a one-off. That is for new buses. That takes us down to $19.02 million. That is recurrent; that is for four years. If he succeeds, he has got that for four years. On his own figures, we would be looking at $800,000 per annum for zone 1, which amounts to $3.2 million. That sounds a little on the light side to me, but let us take $3.2 million as gospel. That takes us down to $5.82.

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