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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4138..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

As soon as it was clear that it was a public interest disclosure matter, on advice given to us by the department, not on the information given by the fax because the fax was incomplete, no further contact was made with anybody. There was no commitment to ring the complainant. There has been no contact from my office. We have acted in accordance with advice given to us by the department of education and the Government Solicitor's Office about the appropriate role for a minister and, basically, the appropriate role is not to have one.

Department of Education and Training

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, yesterday in response to a question without notice from me regarding allegations of corruption and maladministration in your department, and the subsequent lodgment of a public interest disclosure document, you said:

The advice came back that the matter was subject to top confidentiality provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act. A brief confirming this advice was provided to me by the chief executive of the Department of Education and Training at a briefing on 26 July 2004.

Minister, on 4 August in question time, Mrs Burke asked you whether you were aware that a PID had been lodged and your response was:

This is the first I have heard of that incident, Mrs Burke. In relation to the public interest disclosure: I am not aware of one.

Minister, why did you not disclose to the Assembly on 4 August, when asked, that you had a briefing on 26 July in regard to the lodgment of a PID?

MS GALLAGHER: I think Mr Stefaniak selectively shortened Mrs Burke's question because, from memory, Mrs Burke asked about a quite specific allegation. The question, as I remember it, was not, "Are you aware of a public interest disclosure in your department?" It was, "There are these allegations that have been made." From memory, it could have been Gowrie school. I will have to review Hansard but there was certainly a specific allegation made.

Because I do not know what is in the public interest disclosure, my answer was correct. The question was-

Mr Smyth: Like you said, you are not aware of one, yet you were briefed.

Mrs Burke: You either did or you didn't.

MS GALLAGHER: No. The question was-

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! The minister has the floor.

MS GALLAGHER: The question from Mrs Burke had a specific scenario in it, and that was followed up by a specific scenario from Mr Cornwell and then a specific question from Mrs Dunne on that day. I remember it. Mr Cornwell asked about four canteens.


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