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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 814 ..

Schools-IT grants

MRS CROSS: My question is to the minister for education, Mr Corbell. Minister, on 27 March you addressed the Weston Creek Community Council on a variety of matters, including education matters. You may recall that, during the evening, you responded to a question from the floor regarding access to IT grants for government and non-government schools. Your answer that night included a firm assurance that independent schools-that is, schools outside the Catholic Education Office-could indeed apply for IT grants on a needs basis. Do you stand by that statement today?

MR CORBELL: Yes, I did indicate to that meeting that, consistent with the government's election commitment, schools which were not in the systemic Catholic sector or public schools would be welcome to make individual submissions on their IT needs and the government would consider those needs on a case-by-case basis. That remains the case.

MRS CROSS: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, how do you reconcile your answer that evening with your prior letter to the Blue Gum School, dated 5 March, that "at this juncture no funds have been made available for any independent school for the specific purpose of providing information technology in 2002-03"?

MR CORBELL: Because no-one has asked for any.

Gas-fired power station

MS TUCKER: My question is directed to the Treasurer, who has responsibility for Actew. Mr Quinlan, you would be aware, I hope, that ActewAGL recently released a preliminary assessment for a proposal to build a gas-fired power station in Hume. The project is expected to cost $50 million and involves installing a second-hand gas turbine, which the report says will only be used for the equivalent of 15 days a year to cope with peaks in electricity demand in the ACT, even though there is excess generation capacity in New South Wales from which we get most of our power.

As a shareholder of Actew and a half-owner of ActewAGL, could you tell me what input you have had into this proposal, and whether you think the expenditure of $50 million for 15 days of operation per year is a worthwhile investment or whether there is some other agenda to use this station more constantly for selling power interstate as a revenue raiser?

MR QUINLAN: Thanks, Ms Tucker. Actually, the input into the proposal itself has been zero. ActewAGL, which is now an independent partnership, is investigating, as you have said.

To understand what this gas station will do in terms of peak management, it should be noted that the thermal stations of the Hunter Valley or, even worse, the Latrobe Valley virtually have to operate at peak capacity even when there is no peak demand because they are just simply not easy to wind up. You cannot turn the wick up and down on those stations. So even if there is a peak demand to be met-let us say it is 100-of only half

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