Page 3093 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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Indeed, as I said earlier in this debate, when we had the opportunity to get the Centre for International Economics to do some more work on this, the Labor members of the committee said, “No. What would we want more analysis for? Why would we want an independent view of how this will go?” That is the problem for the government.

We will see what will happen. It is a lot of money. It is a great deal of money. One thing we all know is that Labor is very, very good at spending. What they are not good at is getting the return from these proposals. What they are not good at is bringing them in on time, on scope and on budget. We have simply said: make the case. Infrastructure Australia said, “Go away. You haven’t made the case.” The government say we are now on a priority list. Well, that probably means Infrastructure Australia opened a folder and put inside the ACT capital metro proposal and it is back in the filing cabinet. Homework not up to standard, Mr Corbell. Please redo.

If they were serious, after more than a decade in government, given that they took it to the 2001 and 2008 elections, they would have done the work properly. They would have been able to go to Infrastructure Australia with a case. They would be able to table all the documents that we have been asking for. They would be prepared, but they are not. But, like Labor and the light on the hill, armed with ideology—that is all Mr Corbell is armed with, ideology—they blunder on. But at the end of the blunder, as with so many of Mr Corbell’s blunders—whether they be the prison, the ESA headquarters or the GDE—the taxpayer will pay. It will be interesting to see how the government backflip on this one.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.13—Education and Training Directorate—$589,429,000 (net cost of outputs), $80,122,000 (capital injection) and $238,609,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $908,160,000 be agreed to.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (11.33): With the net cost of outputs at $589,429,000, education is a large and essential part of the ACT budget. This allocation includes a wide number of programs across government and non-government school education, vocational and higher education, the ACT building and construction industry fund and CIT Solutions. This year early intervention services were also included under DET.

During the estimates process there was much discussion and many questions asked, but still many issues remain somewhat short on detail. I do not intend to dwell at this stage on the merits or otherwise of the Chief Minister’s signing up for the Gonski reform, which has now come to be known as the national education reform agreement. But there is no question that there was clearly a political desire to support a fading Prime Minister, and it is acknowledged that the ACT education sector as a whole was not likely to have the same pulling power as some of the larger states.

Whether we could have got a better deal is now somewhat academic. It is also academic whether you continue to call these reforms the Gonski reforms when they are so far from the intent and the intention of Gonski. I think the former education minister, Dr Bourke, referred to it as the essence of Gonski. Dr Bourke, you must be sad to see that the essence of Gonski has been somewhat diluted.

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