Page 4507 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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ACT’s financial position has deteriorated badly over the last year, do you guarantee that you will meet the commitment made during the 2004 election campaign?

MS GALLAGHER: We went through the election campaign and to the election with a very strong commitment to education. One was delivered on certainly in the first term of the Stanhope government. We made several promises. The one which Mrs Dunne mentions, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in schools, was in that. We have another three budgets to go. We never said in our election campaign that every promise would be funded in the first budget. We saw that a number of promises were delivered in the second appropriation and in the first budget following the election.

There are a range of initiatives remaining to be rolled out over the next few years of this term of government. They are all sitting there, being prioritised and will go through the budget process, just like every other initiative.

MRS DUNNE: Following the prioritisation of the election initiatives, will you still be confident of meeting the greenhouse commitment that you made in the 2004 election?

MS GALLAGHER: We made a commitment to an initiative, not a target, of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in schools. We made a commitment of some money to be provided. That is a different question.

As I have said to Mrs Dunne, she has not been a minister; so we can understand that she has not been through a budget process and does not understand that you go in there and work through the initiatives. A responsible government takes decisions on what initiatives should be funded in a priority order. I do not think there is anything wrong with going through that process, other than that Mrs Dunne does not understand how the budget process works.

We have a range of initiatives to be funded through the education policy that we took to the election. I should say that it was a very strong education policy and one which was endorsed by the community at the polls. That was obvious. What the Liberals went to the election with in education was nothing short of disgraceful. Massive injections into the non-government sector and closing schools were key elements in the election policy by the Liberals in the lead-up to the election.

The electorate said no. The electorate, surprisingly, had a little look at Mr Pratt, who was a very quiet shadow education spokesperson. The electorate looked at their policy on education, weighed it up and voted. What did they do? They voted in as a majority government the side who was putting forward policies that invest in the public education system and who had delivered on a very, very strong education commitment in the first term of government.

This is merely a continuation of that commitment. We funded a number of those initiatives in the second appropriation. We had a number funded through the last budget. We will continue to roll out those election commitments as we progress this term of government, along with any other pressing need that comes in the education area.

One area of obvious expenditure in education is teachers' salaries. I remind those opposite of the situation we were in when we came to negotiate the first teacher EBA.

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