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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 997

Senator REID(4.04) —These financial statements were a short time ago in draft form in the annual report of the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority and we now have the actual statements. I want to refer to that part of them which relates to the activities of the warehouse of the Authority which has now been closed. It was closed at the end of last year as a cost cutting measure as a result of the cuts in funding for the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority and the staffing level that it had to adopt. This has caused a considerable amount of hardship and inconvenience for a number of the schools which are now faced with purchasing supplies at greatly increased cost to that which they were paying when they purchased them through the warehouse. What we really want to know is: Was the warehouse financially self-sufficient or not? That is a crucial question. Unfortunately, the financial statements do not make that clear.

There is a statement of trading operations of the warehouse for the year ended 30 June 1986, indicating a profit of $24,840 which was transferred to the statement of activity, and which is shown there as part of the income of the Authority. But the statement also indicates that the warehouse operating overheads, including salaries, are incorporated in the statement of activity under `Administration Expenses'. But under that item they are not identified on their own, so it is not possible to tell exactly what the costs were. Most people think that the warehouse was closed merely to save a few staff positions so that these people could be used in other areas; maybe that is the case, maybe it is not. But if the warehouse was in fact operating financially independently the number of staff positions ought to be quite irrelevant and the activities of the warehouse should perhaps be continued. I ask the Authority to produce figures which show exactly what it did cost to run the warehouse. It should have been financially self-sufficient. If it was not, that is a matter which ought to be known. If it was, why were those staff positions taken merely for that reason and why was the warehouse not allowed to continue operating, given the very short notice that the schools had of its closing and given the difficulties many of them have been faced with since and the significantly increased charges and costs that they are now facing in acquiring goods which they would previously have bought from the warehouse? I hope that the Authority will produce these independent financial statements relating to the warehouse at the Supplementary Estimates so that the school community in the Australian Capital Territory can have a better understanding of what in fact went on.

Question resolved in the affirmative.