Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 944 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
hours. I believe that the quarter of a million dollars already allocated to this inquiry should at least ensure that the views of all sectors of the education community are encompassed.
Importantly, the price tag for this inquiry, at 2.5 times greater than that spent on a similar education inquiry in Victoria-with its much greater education system-appears extravagant, and I have real concerns about the validity of this cost to ACT taxpayers. However, that is another matter and I will revisit that issue as the weeks go on.
Finally, it is patently obvious that a committee of reference with representatives from all sectors, which is properly involved at all stages of consultation, is more likely to embrace any inquiry outcome, thereby ensuring a successful result and implementation. This inquiry should not be undertaken by just one ministerial appointee. This review needs community ownership, since we are all going to be paying for it. A committee of reference will allow this to be achieved.
MS DUNDAS (5.03): As you would be well aware, Mr Pratt first raised his objections to this education review in the media last month. Since this time, the chamber has heard the position of Mr Pratt on four different occasions. We had the dorothy dixer to the minister yesterday then, at the conclusion of question time, Mr Pratt was so incensed that he tried to make a personal explanation. At the end of proceedings, the adjournment debate was also on this education review. Today, we had another question in question time, this time from Mr Pratt, and finally we are able to debate the issue of the review further in the form of this motion.
I, like Mr Pratt, do have concerns about the review. However, our concerns are quite different. Rather than another review into the crisis facing our education system, I would like to see action now. My concern is not with the consultancy or the consultation process. My concern is that, with the Stanhope government launching yet another review, this may be just a stalling tactic.
My questions to the government are about what our children and families can expect in this year's budget. Is there going to be any support in this year's budget for families with children with disabilities, or for children at risk? My fear is that, by sending this issue of education to review, the minister is going to use this as an excuse for inaction now. The education sector is looking for support for early intervention schemes to diagnose and support children with disabilities and children at risk. This is a problem of unmet need requiring $1 million, and we need this $1 million now, not in 2004. It should not cost $250,000 in consultants' fees to determine this. That is one concern that I have with the review.
My other objection is that the ACT government is using this review to do the job of the federal Labor Party. Let us remember that federal Labor has continued to support the current federal funding model, which gives large grants to rich, non-government schools. I see this review as a vain attempt by ACT Labor to get some credibility in the area of public education.
Yes, Mr Pratt, I agree: there may be problems with this review. However, the government have chosen to do this review. They promised to do it in their election campaign, and this is one election promise that they seem likely to keep.