Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991

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Parliamentary Record 3


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 on the government benches are speaking. I have given him fair warning and I will name him the next time he offends. Hr STONE: As I was saying, it was the government's intention to spread the burden of recovery fairly across the community. No single area of government responsibility was excluded from the process, nor should it have been. While the government has a special responsibility in relation to education, it must keep that responsibility in step with other community needs and demands. Today, the livelihood of hundreds of Territorians is quite literally on the line. In these circumstances, as I have said publicly, at the end of the day we must ensure that the basics are in place - jobs for people and food on the table. Governments must be prepared to take hard decisions for the greater good. Faced with such circumstances, it would have been unacceptable for the government not to look for efficiencies at every level, including education. I understand the emotions which attach to education. I understand the feelings which are inevitably generated when governments are faced with the necessity of closing the doors of a school. If the Territory had failed to reduce its expenditure for another year or 2, much larger reductions would have been required. We would have found ourselves in the position of some of the states where, in addition to school closures, staff reductions, decreases in teacher contact hours and administrative efficiencies, there have been sackings, massive problems with teacher morale and general reductions in the quality of education. The member for MacDonnell may well quote South Australia, but at least we have not gone down the path of sacking teachers as that government was forced to do. Towards the end of last year, it sacked 800 teachers. In setting out to rationalise expenditure, our guiding rule was to reduce the impact of decisions on schools as a whole and to attempt to make major reductions outside the school and college boundaries. The government has retained its view of awarding priority to education and, proportionately, the reductions have been far less than other departments have had to bear. By the end of the full year 1992-93, there will have been savings of $15.5m in education. An overall reduction in staff of some 262 will also have been achieved. In budgetary terms, education will lose 5% within the school fence, 11.3% in education support services and 15.9% in corporate and administrative services. The 2 strategies of last resort were school closures and reductions in the school staffing formula. The government has not introduced these measures as an option nor, as I have indicated, have they been introduced lightly. To avoid the school closures - which will not occur now but at the end of this year - further across-the-board cuts, such as increased cuts to the staffing formula, would have been necessary. Hr Bell interjecting. Hr STONE: I will pick up the Interjection. COGSO approached the government with the request that, if schools were to be closed, that closure would be deferred until at least the end of the year. We agreed happily to that proposition. To avoid the changes in staffing which would also occur, we would have had to switch our target back to the closure of additional school s. In this context, I believe that Territorians should heed the words of Hugh Hudson, a renowned expert on Australian education, who investigated the program of school closures introduced in the Australian Capital Territory 782

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