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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2812 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I go on and point to the poor strategic decisions taken on the Gungahlin Drive extension western route, which Mrs Dunne talked about in some detail in this place earlier this morning. To that, I would add the concern the community will have about the dreadful impact of that decision on the future of the AIS. Through a lazy approach to determining electoral support matters, we have seen a decision taken which has placed the government on a collision course with federal authorities regarding the future of the AIS.

I also point to the lazy and badly-thought-through decision to introduce paid parking in the territory, especially in Tuggeranong, and the unjustified impacts this decision will have on Tuggeranong College. We have yet to see what the government intends to do about the parking which will be required there to adequately cover the parking requirements of students and instructors.

Mr Speaker, I also point to the wasteful expenditure in education of about $450,000 on yet another raft of inquiries. That $450,000 may have been better spent in some of the areas where education is under pressure.

I congratulate the government for increasing funding on children-at-risk programs. That is a welcome initiative. However, that increased funding has not been sufficient to get to the heart of the problems relative to the pressures facing schools and colleges. At a time when our schools and colleges are under increasing pressure, we do not see specific funding details.

Possibly, there will be details. I look forward to the minister responding later-perhaps on Thursday. I challenge him to give chapter and verse as to the initiatives he will undertake in respect of increased drugs education, more programs for children with disabilities and more comprehensive programs dealing with disruptive children and children at risk. In my view, this issue is the single point of greatest pressure on our schools.

I see few initiatives undertaken within the education department to reallocate expenditure from areas which could perhaps be run more efficiently, with the freeing-up of funding which might be better used in some of these harder hit areas. I do not see any of the tougher initiatives which a responsible government should take to free up resources. In my view, this reflects laziness-it reflects an avoidance of taking on the tough issues.

Mr Speaker, I look forward to dealing with these issues in more detail later.

MS DUNDAS (12.00): Mr Speaker, I am well aware that I am the first representative of the Australian Democrats in this chamber-since self-government. Therefore, every day is not only a first for me, but also a first for my party, as this is our first ACT budget.

The Australian Democrats began 25 years ago. The events leading to the sacking of Prime Minister Whitlam led to the establishment of our party. With that in mind, the Australian Democrats have never blocked a budget. There are many examples of the Democrats negotiating with executive governments to make budgets better, but we have never blocked supply. So, rest assured that the Democrats in the ACT will not work to block supply. Nevertheless, that does not mean we will not scrutinise the budget and the budget process. We will work, both in this place and with the community, to make all

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