Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 58 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
expenditure on education, for instance. That led us to the situation where, over the term of the last government, education expenditure in the ACT dropped from the highest in the nation to the fourth or fifth highest, in terms of per capita expenditure and rate of increase of expenditure.
This is a legacy to which we are determined to respond; in particular we are determined to redirect the $27 million that you were prepared to waste on free bus travel. We will turn around the negligence displayed by the Liberals over their period of government. We will ensure that this enormous reduction in the retention rate and in the per capita increase in expenditure in education is simply not tolerated. We will not tolerate a situation in which this government turns its back on the educational futures of children here in the ACT.
A 6 per cent reduction in the retention rate: have you actually translated that into numbers, over the space of six years across the territory? It equals thousands of children who will not realise their potential because you took your eyes of the ball. You did not maintain education as a priority. You were prepared to squander $27 million on buses, which would be far better used in education to turn around that appalling rejection of the children of the ACT and of the future of the ACT, particularly in relation to public education.
I am happy to repeat my claim in relation to the other indicators. The fact is that 6,000 full-time jobs have departed the scene, and that the participation rate is down by 2 per cent. What did you do about it? Which employment programs did you put in place? None. You just let it happen, and it has continued over the entire period of the last 14 months.
We have announced a raft of programs to provide genuine full-time jobs for the people of the ACT. My colleague the Treasurer will announce some of those plans tomorrow. He will announce the timetable for implementation. We will not tolerate the neglect that was a feature of your stewardship of the ACT as Chief Minister. Of course, it was also a stewardship in relation to which the people of the ACT have passed fairly savage judgment.
MS TUCKER: My question is to the minister responsible for community services, Mr Stanhope, regarding the distribution of money to community organisations to cover the increases under the SACS award. I understand that at least $4 million has been allocated for that purpose, but nothing has yet been received by community organisations. Given that already-stretched organisations have been reporting that, without additional funding very soon, they will have to cut their services, when will community sector organisations receive the money?
MR STANHOPE: I do not have a date on which the cheques will be payable. As you are aware, Ms Tucker, later today the Treasurer will be introducing an appropriation bill. As you have foreshadowed and as was foreshadowed by the previous government and agreed to by us at the time, there will be included in the appropriation bill to be tabled today an allocation of $4 million to deal with the acknowledged shortfall in relation to the SACS award and the community services sector.