Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3703..
MS BRESNAN (continuing):
There is something else that colours this debate today, and that is the manner in which the letter to the Non-Government Schools Council came to our attention. Last Tuesday, the minister tabled a paper under section 118A of the Education Act titled "Advice from Non-Government Schools Education Council". I would like to read out section 118A, because this is quite important. Section 118A states:
The Minister must present a copy of advice given to the Minister ... to the Legislative Assembly within 6 sitting days after the day it is given to the minister.
Section 118A does not say the minister must also table his response. Yet this is exactly what the minister did last Tuesday. Under the guise of advice from the Non-Government Schools Council, he slipped in his response, the letter which features those potentially misleading statements about Mr Doszpot.
We checked with the Assembly office to see whether it was usual practice for the minister for education to also table his response to the council. But no, it was not. No minister for education has ever tabled such a letter in this Assembly or the previous ones.
On the face of it, one might be led to believe that the minister for education intentionally tabled the letter in order to provoke the opposition. We could be wishful and believe that the minister tabled the letter in the name of good governance but it seems unlikely.
You could say here, if you want to really get into it, we also note the dorothy dixer the minister set up yesterday when Mr Doszpot was not here. The minister seems to be playing a dirty political game, one that potentially breaches the code of conduct and goes against what I hope all MLAs consider to be good practice.
So it is not Mr Doszpot that has brought this debate on and tried to make a political attack; rather, it is the minister for education who has done so by putting a very unnecessary statement in the letter and then flaunting it in the face of Mr Doszpot. His actions must be dealt with.
The Greens do not support an immediate censure. We take censures and the ministerial code of conduct very seriously and believe, in the first instance, the minister should be asked quite formally to correct the record. I move:
Omit all words after "That this Assembly", substitute:
"(1) notes that:
(a) the Minister for Education and Training wrote to the Non-Government Schools Council on 28 July 2009, stating that '... I have made abundantly clear in the Legislative Assembly that the Government opposes suggestions by the Liberal Party's spokesman that I should use the Human Rights Act 2004 as a way of the Government taking over non-government school teaching and curriculum' and then tabled this letter in the Assembly on 18 August 2009;