Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991
Parliamentary Record 3
Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 schools in the case of remote Aboriginal schools. I would have thought that the members for Barkly and MacDonnell would have welcomed that strategy as handing control of their schools to the people in those communities. We hope all councils will take on the full devolution package. For those that have accepted the full range of powers which now apply, there is not likely to be a greatly increased workload. I recognise that some may not have the resources in their community to take on all of the tasks proposed and, where this is the case, councils may still opt for part of the total devolution package, with the responsibility for implementation of the remainder lying with the principal. I want to stress that no school will have devolution foisted on it. There is a matter of choice at the end of the day. Financial guidelines for principals will be adjusted accordingly. Key features of the new package will be that schools and colleges will be provided with 1-11ne budgets. Again, I would have expected opposition members to applaud that strategy. Schools will be able to deal directly with private sector suppliers, working from government contract prices for all school supplies. Following the success of a number of schools in managing large capital works projects, the government has agreed that all capital works projects may be handled by school councils, another strategy that has been welcomed by school communities. Perhaps the most important provisions relate to staffing. Relief teacher funding will be allocated on a financial grant basis and will include an incentive component following the Tasmanian scheme. This means that, if schools do not use the full relief teacher allocation, then the funds can be used for other purposes. Conversely, if a school overexpends its relief teacher funding, it will have to find funds for further relief teaching from elsewhere within its grant. Clearly, if there is an epidemic or some unforeseen circumstances arise, there is provision for the school funding allocation to be reviewed. Mr Bailey: That is sick. Mr STONE: The member for Wanguri says that that is sick. It would appear that he does not have my confidence in the ability of school councils to manage their affairs. Another issue of major importance to the ERC was the rationalisation of administrative processes, to which I have referred already during these sittings. The central office of the department has had to bear the biggest burden in cost reductions. I know that this is a matter of some contention among members opposite but it is a fact. We will be privatising supply and introducing an integrated personnel system. Risk management will be introduced into accounts processing. None of these measures will provide less of a service and, in the long run, these services should be quicker, simpler and more efficient. Hand in hand with that, greater decision-making powers will be devolved to superintendents. No longer will my desk be the destination of documentation to appoint a part-time janitor at Yuendumu. That should be dealt with at the local level, and it will be. Another initiative of the ERC is the introduction of full cost recovery for non-compulsory, recreation and general enrichment courses. There is also the implementation of fees and charges for adults enrolled in the school system, such fees to be comparable to those applying to similar courses in the TAFE system. The only effect of this measure on schools will be that a standard scale of fees will apply to adults enrolled in evening courses at secondary colleges. The process of bringing charges into line with TAFE courses has begun already at Casuarina Secondary College and is 786
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