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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (21 June) . . Page.. 2401 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

account the criticism by the Productivity Commission, and it does not take into account the advances that have been made in other states.

We are left with an education system still worthy of respect, but it could be better. More work is required. As I said when I started this short speech, we have lost an opportunity, indeed another opportunity, to do a little better in the future with some extra funding, which if Labor has its way will come from the vote-grabbing free school bus initiative which will cost the community so much.

Go back to the beginning. Much more could have been done if we had not wasted all of the resources we have on all those high-flying programs which cost the citizenry so much-the hospital implosion, the legal costs of that, the legal costs of Bruce Stadium, the cost of Bruce Stadium. It is an extraordinary list of waste and profligacy. Some of that money could have found its way into budget appropriations for things like education-the highest priority, along with health, in our work in this place.

MS TUCKER (9.19): It is widely believed that the Department of Education and Community Services has no excess capacity, seems to be most occupied serving the government rather than schools or community services and can only provide support for Commonwealth-funded and targeted programs. That is the perception in the community.

I acknowledge a large number of valuable but fairly small projects are included in this budget, and thank God for that. It is good that the government has listened to some degree at least. While the programs are new, they address needs that are not newly identified. Many people in the community sector and the education system have been calling for programs such as these and more for a long time.

The irony is that when it comes to departmental programs the government is simply picking up on some of the capacity that has been stripped from government services since 1995. In other words, if you have been marking time due to lack of resources, then any addition looks fairly substantial. While the government is understandably pleased that it can face the electorate with evidence of some kind of fresh impetus in meeting the need for early intervention and providing some support for people living in poverty, in the broad scheme of things this is not the coherent and concentrated approach it would have us believe.

Moreover, most of these programs, if they are effective, will be difficult to contain to projected levels. There will be a need for growth funding. If government continues to fund big ticket items such as corporate welfare, car races and free school buses over the years, such growth will be hard to accommodate.

The tick-the-box approach to addressing the identified issues of kids at risk, families in need of support, adolescents in crises and so on does not get to the core of the problem in a rigorous enough way. I go back to housing, I have already dealt with this in the debate. Even in the newspapers today we see that affordability of housing in Canberra is higher than anywhere else in Australia. That is because of repayments and so on.

Housing is a big issue in the ACT. It is not just about provision of public housing; it is about people being able to afford housing, whether by paying a mortgage, renting or trying to get public housing. These larger social issues are very important if the

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