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QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
MS FOLLETT: I have a question for Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Minister for Education. I ask Mr Stefaniak: Have you interfered in the assessment of one of our government schools Year 12 students - just one student - and, if that is the case, do you believe that that is the standard of behaviour that is expected of a Minister?
MR STEFANIAK: I am not quite sure what Ms Follett is referring to, although I think she refers to a problem that has been ongoing at one of our senior colleges where, acting on the advice of my department, I did cause a number of things to happen. The matter is ongoing; it certainly has not been resolved yet. I would like to commend all the teachers for their sensitive efforts in what has been a very difficult time for them over the past few months. I have had discussions with all parties concerned, I think, including the Australian Education Union. As the matter is not resolved I do not believe that I should comment further, except to say that I hope that, due to the good offices of all involved, it will sort itself out satisfactorily. It is a very sensitive thing. I have considerable sympathy for the student involved and I have great sympathy for the staff involved as a result of pressures brought to bear upon them through no fault of their own. It is a very delicate situation. I am not going to indicate what school it is. I do not think that would be proper as the matter is not resolved.
MS McRAE: My question is to the Minister for Education, Mr Stefaniak. I would like to know why the ordinary process of assessment was not followed in the case of this particular student, why you became involved, and what the additional cost of this additional process of assessment has been, particularly the time of the solicitor who was asked to be involved.
MR STEFANIAK: I do not know whom you are acting on behalf of, Ms McRae, because there are a number of parties involved here. In terms of my involvement and the department's involvement, I have acted under very good advice, I believe, from my chief executive officer, who has also acted, I believe, under advice from the Government Solicitor's Office in matters. I think the department has acted sensitively and quite appropriately and with due regard to all persons in this matter. As I said, it is ongoing - - -
Mr Berry: One student?
MR STEFANIAK: Yes, one student. The Education Department, Mr Berry, is very concerned about all its students, including individual students. It is concerned about its staff. It handles matters as sensitively as it can, having due regard to the rights and responsibilities of all concerned. I value the advice I have been given by my department here. I think it has been appropriate. I also understand that my departmental officers have taken all appropriate steps, including consulting other areas of government, including the office of my colleague the Attorney-General, in relation to several matters with regard to this. As I said to Ms Follett, Ms McRae, the matter is not yet resolved.