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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2943

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(10.41) —Watson High School currently has an enrolment of 264 students. Its enrolment was projected to fall to 200 by 1988. The cost per student is considerably above the average for high schools. The school was given three years from 1984, with rich resources, to prove its viability. The ACT Schools Authority decided it should close no later than at the end of 1987 and not enrol students in year 7 in 1987. Meetings were held with leaders of the four north Canberra high schools concerning transition arrangements. The Watson High community will be offered a program for years 8 to 10 in 1987, with staffing for some 200 students at the same level per student in 1986. Schools with low numbers attract correspondingly low teacher numbers and, therefore, have difficulty in offering the range of curriculum options of larger schools. The Department of Territories' portfolio committee, with the Authority's representatives, will examine possible future uses of the building. I would have thought that in this day and age, in a Territory which imposes as much on education costs as it does, a high school of 200 or less is quite ludicrous.

In relation to the hydatid control program, approximately 12 cases of hydatid are treated in Australian Capital Territory hospitals annually. The vast majority of cases comes from outside the Australian Capital Territory. The Southern Tablelands region has the highest incidence of the disease in Australia since people such as Senator Archer and I, through an effective program State-wide in Tasmania, reduce the incidence of that disease in Tasmania considerably. The Australian Capital Territory Health Authority has given strong financial support to the hydatid control program since 1983. That support was given to establish the program and get the program going in the Australian Capital Territory. But the only way it will be controlled sensibly and effectively is through a strong national program. One cannot control hydatid by just having a hydatid control program in the Australian Capital Territory.

The Government agrees that, in order to maximise the effectiveness of the hydatid control program, local activities should be undertaken as part of a national program. The National Health and Medical Research Council's proposed national hydatid control program will be that national program. The Authority will incorporate its hydatid control program educational activities into its 1986-87 program. The reduction by $10,000 in an established program will not mean that that program is ineffective. The program will not be effective until the national hydatid control program extending throughout the Southern Tablelands area is introduced.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Local Government and Administrative Services

Proposed expenditure, $619,734,000.