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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2433 ..

It is abundantly clear-

Mr Berry: It's not Bill Stefaniak's money. Bill doesn't want it.

MR HIRD: Don't interrupt, Mr Berry. I am quoting you. You are interrupting on yourself, sir. Thank you. You said it is abundantly clear that the allocation of $27 million to a free school bus system is not being distributed equitably. That is what he said. In paragraph 12 he says that the $27 million that was being allocated to free school buses will be re-allocated to schools.

Well, that is a contradiction in itself, Mr Speaker, because all members would recall the desperate need for the expansion of the bus network and the pressure that has been put on Mr Guy Thurston, the chief executive of ACTION, and his staff to expand that network, in particular for the new developing suburbs of Dunlop and Gungahlin. A large part of the $27 million is to be allocated for the acquisition of new equipment and new buses which are urgently needed to expand the network. They can't have their cake and eat it too. There again, Mr Berry sometimes chokes on his own cake because once again he has lost the battery out of his calculator.

Where is that extra money coming from? Are we going to place this territory in financial chaos again? After 20 October, if those people who are leading the polls at the moment are on this side and on the treasury benches, are they going on another spending spree? That is what this tell us. This tells us that millions of dollars will need to be spent on the acquisition of new equipment, and that is a fact. That is a fact and that is part of the $27 million. But that is not what the deputy chair of this committee is saying. He is saying he has now persuaded his colleagues, under a policy which he just mentioned, to give the $27 million to education. He has made that public. So I ask not only Mr Berry but also the shadow Treasurer, Mr Quinlan, who has a better grasp of this position than Mr Berry, where is that additional money coming from to buy this plant and equipment for urgently needed buses? I note that they are silent. The fact is that they are going to run the tally up again and we will be in the red, as we were when we took over in 1995.

MR HARGREAVES (11.05): It is an absolute tragedy. What we have here, Mr Speaker, is a report, put together, I believe, with good intention on the part of members in this place, to address the issue of problems with kids at school and kids at risk generally. What we see is Mrs Burke getting up and having a go politically about Mr Berry's suggestion, and we have Mr Hird over here who just rambles on incessantly about the $27 million.

What is the substance of this report, Mr Speaker? It's about kids at risk. It's about kids with needs. It's about a group of people coming together and saying to the government, "You can do a little better in looking after the needs of kids at risk." I am surprised that these people have debased the issue by introducing such spurious nonsense into this debate, Mr Speaker. What we should be doing is highlighting what the government is doing well and highlighting what it is not doing so well, and making some suggestions on how it can get on and look after these kids at risk.

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