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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 175

Senator TEAGUE —I ask the Minister for Education about her support for her ministerial colleagues in matters of education for which she is responsible. First, will the Minister recount the circumstances in which she failed to maintain the Cabinet approved staff ceilings in the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority? Was the Minister for Finance justified in his reprimand of her? Secondly, will the Minister recount the circumstances in which the Minister for Trade broke through a union imposed picket line to help his child attend school? Did the Minister for Education support the Minister for Trade in this action and did she facilitate this attendance at school?

Senator RYAN —I suggest that if Senator Teague has a real interest in Australian Capital Territory education matters he ought to find better sources than those on which he has obviously drawn heavily. I refer to Richard Farmer, a writer for the Bulletin, who consistently writes in a very biased way about Australian Capital Territory education matters. If Senator Teague is interested in the details of staffing levels within the Australian Capital Territory school system, both before and after the May economic statement, he is perfectly welcome to be briefed by officers of the Schools Authority and to discover these matters for himself. The fact is that there was a reduction in the overall level of staffing that prevailed in May, according to a formula that had been previously determined.

Now that the August Budget has been brought in, it is clear that, despite the reduction in the formula announced in May, there will actually be a greater number of teachers in the Australian Capital Territory school system for the 1986 year than there is this year-in the vivinity of 70 or 72 more teachers. The number cannot be stated precisely because the number of teachers is pupil generated and, depending on the number of enrolments, there will be over 70 more teachers-a net increase. So that is actually good news for those of us who have a serious interest in the Australian Capital Territory. In respect of Senator Teague's other question I have no comment.

Senator TEAGUE —I ask a supplementary question. I take it that the Minister feels that the Minister for Finance was not justified in his reprimand of her. I also take it from her answer that she did facilitate the Minister for Trade.

Senator RYAN —I pointed out to Senator Teague that he should not believe everything he reads in the Bulletin. In respect of the other matter, the person involved has made it quite clear that he was acting as a parent on that occasion and not as my ministerial colleague.