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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3031 ..

Mrs Burke: No, it's a question.

Mr Smyth: When will you?

Mrs Burke: A timeframe.

MR WOOD: The question has been answered, Mr Speaker.

School excursions-fees

MS DUNDAS: My question is directed to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. Parents of children in public schools are expected to pay for school excursions and school camps. Does the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services have a policy that sets out the maximum amount that parents can be asked to pay for such activities in a school year?

MS GALLAGHER: The department has a policy relating to the costs and fees that parents might have to pay. That policy is underpinned by the principle that parents who cannot afford to pay should not have to pay. However, that should not prevent students from participating in any activities. I am not sure whether or not a maximum amount is specified in that policy. I will obtain that information and convey it to the member. The policy that I have seen acknowledges the fact that additional costs might have to be paid. Most parents are able to pay or to contribute towards those costs and fees. If some parents are not able to pay, those students are accommodated.

MS DUNDAS: I ask a supplementary question. The minister, in the latter part of her answer, intimated that children whose parents cannot afford to pay are accommodated. Many constituents have expressed concern about the fact that their children have not participated in school activities because their parents cannot afford to pay those costs and fees. Will the minister provide more detail about the way in which those students are being accommodated?

MS GALLAGHER: I have not had brought to my attention any cases in which children are missing out on, or are not allowed to participate in, school activities. The member indicated that constituents had expressed concerns to her. If the member forwards those cases to me I would be happy to look at them. I would be most concerned if students were missing out on activities because their parents were not able to pay. I will take up that matter with the department.

Housing affordability

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the minister for housing, Mr Wood. In the 2001 election you promised to implement an affordable housing strategy. Since then, the first home buyer market has shrunk by 14 per cent, while the rest of the housing market is booming. The average house buyer in the ACT is now paying an average of $48,000 to your government in taxes and charges, including stamp duty which Mr Quinlan jacked up by 22 per cent in his first budget. There is a universal complaint in the building industry throughout the ACT about the shortfalls in the provision of land in Canberra by your government.

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