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Kelly must clarify cost of school kit fiasco

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Member for Pearce Shadow Minister for Sustainable Development and the Environment


The total cost of the school kit fiasco must be revealed by the Minister for the Environment before she leaves Australia tomorrow for the Earth Summit in Brazil.

In her interview on the "AM" programme last week Mrs Kelly said she understood the kit cost $50,000.

The Opposition has been told that a work-in-progress financial statement in April referred to various projects, including an amount of $182,000 allocated to the World Environment Day school kit.

We understand that a request was then made for more funds for the kit.

The Minister should now reveal the total cost to date of this sorry affair.

She needs to say whether the $182,000 figure is correct, whether that includes the cost of dispatch and, if not, what extra funds were used for that purpose and whether any more money was allocated in April. The cost of withdrawal of the kit, the cost of the Minister's lack of attention, must also be provided.

If the figure we have been given is correct, the Minister might then like to explain how her $50,000 came to blow out to this extent.

And while she's at it the Minister should:

. release all written communication between her office and the Department on the matter

. explain how the withdrawal of the kits is being carried out and whether teachers and students are being advised to bin or destroy them

. explain why she has not taken action to ensure that a 1990 mistake in which her Department sent out 20,000 leaflets to schools on the greenhouse effect and which later had to be corrected because the facts on C02 emissions were wrong could never happen again

. give an undertaking that in offering to provide regular reports from Rio to MPs for use in schools to "extend the learning experience of the kit" (Kelly letter received 22 May) these reports will (a) be read by the Minister before dispatch (b) not under any circumstances be sent direct to schools

. ask the Prime Minister whether he had her in mind when he ranted on about how in HIS Government Ministers are the ones who make decisions, not public servants.

CANBERRA ' Contact: Keith Kessell (06) 277 4760

2 June 1992