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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3253 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Quite an amount of evidence has been given to the committee, including evidence on the question of fitness testing, and I am certainly not going to pre-empt what the committee will be recommending in regard to this issue. All I want to make quite clear is that this work is being undertaken and it would be pre-emptive if I spoke to the motion that is before us today before we have completed our report.

I accept that this is an important issue and I understand Mr Pratt's concern about it. That concern is shared by everyone in the Assembly. That is why there was support to set up the inquiry that is being carried out by the Health Committee. I look forward to tabling the report in this place, which hopefully will inform government policy in this area.

MR STEFANIAK (5.22): Mr Deputy Speaker, I will speak to Mr Pratt's motion. I haven't seen the amendment.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is being circulated now.

MR STEFANIAK: I listened upstairs with interest to what Mr Corbell was saying. I would agree with Mr Pratt's motion. I am well aware of the history of this matter and I am quite delighted and amused that Mr Corbell referred to the "government programs"-"government initiatives", he might have even said-which included the compulsory 150 minutes of physical activity a week for students in year 3 to year 10 and, of course, the compulsory 20 to 30 minutes a day for kindergarten to year 2.

This was an initiative of the previous government and an initiative of mine, as minister. It is one of the initiatives I am most proud of and it involved a lot of consultation with teachers. In fact, I think Mr Corbell's predecessor, Ms McRae, who was then the opposition spokeswoman, was on a group looking at that; as, I recall, was Ms Tucker. They both had some reservations about it and, I must say, the department did at the time, too. But I think a good program was initiated as a result-a program that didn't get fully off the ground until 1997 because of the industrial troubles in 1996.

I was pleased to hear the minister acknowledge the list of things that the education department is doing. They are good things and I think they are better than what is being done in most other parts of Australia. But we still have this problem, and growing problem, of obesity.

I am concerned about the complete inaction in taking the logical next step of assessing physical fitness amongst our children and discreetly assisting parents in various ways in how to overcome it. I think Mr Pratt's motion is a good one because, firstly, it condemns this government for abandoning the program we commissioned and which should have been brought in towards the end of last year, and I will get back to that in a second. Secondly, the motion urges the government to give priority to implementing a program which addresses this problem and which includes promoting the implementation of a healthy food campaign in all school tuck shops, and that is a sensible thing, too.

The fitness program was tendered out because it was more than $50,000 a year.

Mr Hargreaves: It wasn't tendered out.

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