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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2800..


MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, if members opposite do not want to hear the answer to their colleague's question they should not have let him ask it. The fact of the matter is that we were constrained by the time limits, and I made that clear both in the report and in my speech on that report. I believe, and I am being quite open about it, that the time available was insufficient. I have been quite open about that. If members will recall, Mr Speaker, Mrs Carnell was out in the lobby there threatening to resign if we tried to extend that deadline. That is the fact of the matter. She chucked on a little turn, as we saw again yesterday, she chucked a little tantrum, until she got the deadline she wanted, and that was the course of action followed by this Assembly. If, in the future, Mr Kaine wants the Public Accounts Committee to conduct a full and proper inquiry into a matter, I would ask that he vote with me to give us sufficient time to do just that.

WorkCover Investigation - Padua College

MR OSBORNE: I would like to clarify one of Ms Follett's points. It was actually here that Mrs Carnell threatened to resign, not out there. Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr De Domenico. I gave him notice about this question during the lunchbreak. Minister, I draw your attention to the activity of ACT WorkCover inspectors in September this year in relation to an accident at Padua College in Wanniassa. Minister, are you aware that threats were allegedly made by these inspectors to the staff of Padua College of a $10,000 fine or a gaol sentence, during the course of conversations about this incident? Are you also aware that Padua College, through its legal representatives, has tried to resolve any problems that might exist, but has not received any assistance or cooperation? Is it the usual practice for WorkCover inspectors to turn up at a school classroom unannounced, demand an immediate interview and threaten a teacher who is currently teaching a class? Do you condone this gestapo-like approach, Minister? If this is the normal practice, will you do something to change the policy to prevent this disgraceful incident from happening again?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Mr Osborne for his question and for giving me prior notice during the lunchbreak. Yes, I am aware of the allegations made regarding the actions taken by inspectors from ACT WorkCover. Mr Speaker, a number of serious allegations were made by the people concerned, including intimidation and threats being made against the staff at Padua College.

Mr Berry: Why did you not send your staff out there to interfere?

MR DE DOMENICO: I will answer that in a minute. This requires prompt action. Mr Speaker, I have asked the secretary to provide me with a full brief on this matter as soon as possible. I have also asked him whether legal advice is warranted in relation to a number of the points raised. This is a matter of significant seriousness, as a number of allegations relate to potentially improper behaviour. This is not a matter of interference in any investigation. To answer the interjection, my office will continue to examine any allegations made - - -

Mr Berry: Interfere at every opportunity.


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