Library funding

Mr DULUK (Waite) (16:23): My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier guarantee that public libraries won't lose any state government funding in the June budget? Sir, with your leave and that of the house, I will further explain.

Leave granted.

Mr DULUK: As reported in the media last week, a longstanding agreement between the government and the LGA expires in June. Local libraries are an integral part of my community, with many users of the Blackwood and Mitcham libraries contacting my office concerned over the future of this funding agreement. Does the government plan to continue to provide the same level of funding to our libraries as it has historically?

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Planning and Local Government) (16:24): As the Minister for Local Government, I addressed this question last week at the meeting of the Local Government Association with many of the mayors from across the state. As probably most members would appreciate, libraries are very core to the provision of services in most of the electorates we represent and I couldn't imagine that anyone in this parliament hasn't been—

The Hon. S.S. Marshall: That's where I got my book.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Is that where you got the book?

The Hon. S.S. Marshall: That's where I got my book from.

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Libraries provide a very valuable service. Certainly, we love libraries and I'm sure the member for Waite—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —also is very keen to support local libraries. The LGA are currently negotiating with the Premier's department in relation to—and I think Treasury officials are involved in that—the normal renegotiation of the agreements on these things. As I indicated to the mayor who asked the question last week—and I certainly wouldn't move to interfere with those arrangements because they are still negotiating them—it is up to the LGA whether they want to make any public comment in relation to how and where they are going with that and what they had secured and what they hadn't, but that's the normal part of the negotiations for that agreement.

I am sure it will be resolved in the near future, but realistically we are not in a position to make that and I certainly wouldn't be disrespectful of the LGA's recommendations. The LGA president, or anyone on her behalf, also didn't provide any further information to the meeting.

As local members, I think we all appreciate the significance of what libraries do. They are very often a meeting place and the only place where some of our people can actually get access to the internet and other services, in addition to the usual books and magazines and so on that are important. They are critical. We love them on this side of the house. I am sure the member for Waite also recognises their significance, but it would be disrespectful and pre-emptive of me to make statements about how those negotiations are going or where they are at until they are concluded and I am sure they will be shortly.