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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1255 ..

MR SPEAKER: Please proceed.

MRS DUNNE: Today in question time, again the Chief Minister said it was the intention of myself in particular and the opposition in general that we should sack the members of the Bushfire Recovery Taskforce. I would like to put on the record again, as I have in this place, what was said when I introduced the bushfire authority bill on Wednesday, 5 March.

Among other things, I said that I am well aware that we have expertise here in the taskforce; that I can think of no better person to head it than Sandy Hollway; but that the taskforce is merely an advisory body. I suggested that we give it some real power-that we should empower Mr Hollway-and that the opposition would be happy to endorse him as its head, not just to advise but to act.

I went on to say that we have an excellent bushfire recovery task force. I congratulated the government on the skills and talent it had assembled in such a short time-but why not give it the power to act rather than just advise?

On the following day, I was interviewed by Mike Jeffreys on radio 2CC. That was on Thursday, 6 March, at about 7.30. When Mr Jeffreys asked me what sort of people I had in mind to go onto the authority I had suggested, I responded by saying that I would take the existing task force, with Sandy Hollway, Terry Snow, Robert de Castella, and all the very good people, and put them into the authority-take the very excellent staff that they have and turn them into authority staff. I mean, all you have to do is take a very good structure that the government has already started to build and make it a better structure.

I would like to reinforce for the record, Mr Speaker, that at no time has anyone from the opposition, including myself, ever proposed that Mr Hollway, Mr Snow, Mr De Castella, Ms Kaine or Mr Tonkin should be sacked. On the contrary, we have encouraged that they should be given more, rather than less, power.

I hope this is the last time we must have this clarification in this place.

Connors inquiry into education funding

Debate resumed.

MR PRATT (3.52), in reply: Mr Speaker, in closing, I would like to first go to a point raised by Ms Tucker in her riposte to this motion. Ms Tucker talks about choice as if only people who can afford to pay can exercise choice, but that is wrong. If we work on our government schools and reinforce the individual strengths many of them have, then we offer a further range of choices to those families who choose to use the public sector.

Impeding the non-government sector and forcing students back to the public sector will not reinforce the notion of choice. An overloaded public sector, which needs a lot of work on it, will not advance the principle of choice-so I reject Ms Tucker's assertion.

Going back to some comments made by the minister that I wish to respond to, perhaps I may inform the minister that I have indeed read the report in my office, and on the beach

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