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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 622 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

have been identified and addressed-such as safety issues for students-and to enable all of the necessary negotiations, planning of educational activities, and organisational arrangements to be finalised.

Schools have already been using the Eagles Rest Outdoor Education Centre at Wee Jasper. This facility will continue to be used by schools. Eagles Rest offers a range of outdoor activities suitable mainly for secondary students.

Mr Speaker, the bill does not contain any money for redundancies in education. This relates primarily to a media release by Mr Pratt, in which he asserted that 32 of the 35 staff at Birrigai have been let go. I would like to correct that error.

For the record, there were 12 permanent staff at Birrigai, all of whom have been redeployed within the department. The principal and one full-time officer have also been allocated to working on the proposal for future outdoor education options in relation to the longer-term planning for Birrigai. There were some casual staff. These people are now available for other relief work.

There is a significant disparity between 12 and 35. I think it is important that we correct the error in Mr Pratt's media release. The staff were never let go. This bill makes no provision for their redundancy, as they are working within the Department of Education.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (12.09), in reply: I would like to close the debate. I think the debate has been useful inasmuch as it has added a few more dimensions to the magnitude of the task that has been faced and is being addressed not just by this government, but by this Assembly.

As to whether the bushfire has been used as an excuse, let me clarify that point. I have said a number of times, in this place and outside of this place, that I expected the bill to be $20 million-plus in the long run. I have explained consistently that we do have problems with our superannuation. As far as that being described as an old standby goes, just because we had problems with our superannuation three months ago, two months ago, one month ago and now-and it has been repeated each time-I do not think ranks it as an old standby. It is a fact. I am very happy to debate the impact on the bottom line, provided we do not descend into misinformation and parroting. Mr Smyth used to parrot what Mr Humphries would put out as misinformation.

I will give an apology to Mr Smyth, based on what I picked up today. I did think he was being, at best, disingenuous, if not dishonest, but now I think he just doesn't know-from elements of what he said, in terms of mixing up what an appropriation bill is about and getting the sanction of the Assembly for particular expenditures versus the actual funding, the finding of funds and the cash management associated with that.

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I think I heard Mr Quinlan say that Mr Smyth was at best disingenuous and at worst dishonest. I would like him to withdraw the word "dishonest".

MR SPEAKER: Withdraw that, Mr Quinlan.

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