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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2429 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

There are some extra comments on the back of this report from Mr Berry. He made a comment regarding the need for us to consider whether or not money should be spent by government on free school buses rather than on the sorts of recommendations that we have made in this report. The committee did not look in detail at resourcing issues, so Mrs Burke and I were not prepared to put that in as a recommendation of this committee, because we did not look at a whole realm of ways that you could fund it, and we have had that debate in this Assembly on three occasions, I think, that I can remember. However, the question of resourcing is important. I certainly hope to see in any response from the government at this point, but also the Labor Party, a commitment to resourcing in this area, because the costs in the long run of not coming in and supporting students in schools will be much greater than the costs of us doing that now. That also has been stressed in so many other reports.

I do not think I need to repeat for members of this place that the long-term benefits of looking at intervention and sanctions are clear. We do have in schools a very critical opportunity to get in behind families and students and help them in a way that will mean that they can have some reasonable kind of educational experience which will be with them for the rest of their lives in a way that will be a positive factor.

I ask members to read this report. I think it is an important report for anybody who is interested in the development of social policy across a range of issues.

MR BERRY (10.47): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak to this report, having participated in a very lengthy inquiry into the subject matter, adolescents and young adults at risk of not achieving a satisfactory education training outcome. This report and the most recent budget point to the misdirected priorities of this government. Nobody, and certainly not Labor, can oppose the 18 recommendations of the report. I have said before, and I say again, that this should form part of an action plan by any government to deal with young people who are at risk of not achieving their full potential in our schools.

What the report does highlight, Mr Speaker, is the inadequacy of the decision-making process of this government when it comes to resourcing. So often we have seen Mr Humphries, in particular, stand and say that if a committee is going to make any recommendations or any decisions about particular matters or try to put pressure on the government to do certain things it is going to have to fund it and tell us where the money is coming from. That is what is said to us ad nauseam, as you will all recall.

Mr Speaker, we have a government that worries about resources, but it does not worry about them for important social issues such as this when it comes to putting its election chances out there in front. The government has decided upon a free school bus program which will cost $27 million. If you have a look at the recommendations of the report and the commentary of the report, it will come as no surprise to you that many of the issues in relation to these young people as catalogued in the report have been around for some time. That is not something that ought to have escaped the government's notice when they were sorting out their funding priorities before the last budget. That is why I decided that there needed to be some extra comment about the misdirection of funding by this government.

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