Page 5697 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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school and what would be the impact on school readiness of Canberra children if this appropriation is not supported in the future?

MR BARR: The answer to the first part of the question is: yes, the budget did contain a number of measures aimed at supporting school readiness and early childhood education, the most obvious being salaries for our dedicated preschool teachers and our early childhood teachers. There were also salaries for speech therapists, maternity nurses, doctors and child protection workers—in fact, salaries for every single ACT government employee who helps to get Canberra kids ready to go to school.

Yet in this year’s budget debate we saw the most tangible example of the Liberals’ one and only doctrine: opposition for opposition’s sake. They voted against the budget. They voted against support and salaries for the ongoing business of government. They voted against salaries for preschool teachers, against salaries for speech therapists, against salaries for maternity nurses and doctors. They voted against salaries for child protection workers. You have to ask whether voting against the salaries of such dedicated and important public servants is a bad decision. But to do it again would be catastrophic.

Let me assure all of those workers that ACT Labor will do what it can through the budget process, and one would hope with the support of the Greens, to ensure that they can continue to do their bit to help kids get ready for school. That is—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR BARR: That investment annually—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR BARR: The most important bill that this Assembly ever debates, the appropriation, is critical to ensure that this government and this community are able to do the best for young people in the territory. It is to the Liberals’ shame that they continue this opposition for opposition’s sake doctrine—

Canberra Hospital—disabled patients

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Minister, yesterday, in response to a question relating to the length of time Karyn Costello has been waiting to transition from hospital to home, you said:

… you could be patient and gracious and wait for that reply.

Minister, Karyn has been waiting for over 2½ years. Are you demanding that she be patient and gracious also?

MS BURCH: The department and I are working with Karyn Costello to ensure that she has accommodation that meets her needs, accommodation that she is comfortable with and accepting of. That is what we are doing.

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