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Canberra Times . . Page.. 1342 ..

Student Assessment

MS FOLLETT: I have a question for Mr Stefaniak in his capacity as Minister for Education. I refer Mr Stefaniak to the issue of his interference in the assessment of a Year 12 student in our government school system. You have repeatedly said that you acted on advice in this matter. Can you explain whose advice you acted upon, and will you table that advice?

MR STEFANIAK: Firstly, I might ask the Leader of the Opposition what interference she is actually alleging. The matter she refers to, as I indicated yesterday, is an ongoing matter. There are privacy provisions in relation to it. But what exact interference is she alleging?

MR SPEAKER: Minister, I remind you that under standing order 116 questions may be put to a member, not being a Minister, relating to any Bill, motion or other public matter concerned with the business of the Assembly of which the member has charge. I am not convinced that the Leader of the Opposition necessarily has charge of the matter.

MR STEFANIAK: She is not very specific. As I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, my involvement in this matter followed advice from my CEO. We have discussed the matter. It is an ongoing matter; it is a matter that is still current. I understand that there are further actions that are going to be taken and further actions that might be taken. There are privacy issues. It was a complex and difficult matter. As a result of discussions I had with my chief executive officer, and on the advice of the department, I did a number of things, and I think that was most appropriate in the circumstances.

I might note, in relation to extraordinary circumstances in relation to these types of matters, that there was an earlier matter in, I think, January, when the previous Government was still in power, where the procedures differed from the normal procedures. I think each case does have to be taken on its merits. On taking advice and having due regard to all the circumstances and all the persons I had talked to in relation to this matter, I caused certain things to happen. Events have subsequently superseded a lot of what has happened and, as I said, the matter is ongoing. It is a bit hard to table my chief executive officer.

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. It relates to the matter of advice that the Minister himself alleges he obtained, although he has been unwilling to table or produce any of it. In today's Canberra Times, Minister, you are quoted as saying that you sought advice from the Attorney-General's office. I ask: Who in the Attorney-General's office provided that advice? What was that person's qualifications for providing that advice? Why was the Attorney-General's Department bypassed?

MR STEFANIAK: Ms Follett, I do not know whether you need to believe all you read in the paper.

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