Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2313 ..
MR RUGENDYKE: I refer specifically to the attention given to my family by the personnel of the delivery suite there, led by midwife Fay McMullen, who carry out their work in an exceptionally professional, compassionate and, obviously, dedicated manner. It is very important, I think, to applaud the staff of our public institutions when appropriate, and this is one such occasion.
MR BERRY (5.19): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I rise to express some concern about a report last evening from Capital 10 in relation to Lyneham High School. I have a release from the Government in relation to this matter. The Government has basically attacked the report from Ten Capital. I understand that there was an altercation at the school but that this, in the end, was reported as something of a riot. There was, I understand, footage of weapons being removed. I understand also that the film of these weapons was file footage from somewhere else. I see from the Government's statement that no weapons have been seized, and neither have any persons been charged.
We all once went to school, and now and then there were altercations between students in schoolyards. I do not know the extent of the altercation which took place, although the Ministers, I think, say that there were only a couple of people involved. In any event, there are often altercations at school. This example of reporting has not helped with the image of the school in question. That is not to say that people cannot make mistakes. Politicians make mistakes sometimes, although I am guilty of few of them. But journalists make mistakes too. Did I say that?
Mr Moore: A risky statement!
MR BERRY: A risky statement. I hope that, in the end, if there has been an injustice to the high school in question, there is some sort of a retraction. At the end of the day, these sorts of statements, misstatements and misinformation about high schools can be terribly damaging to the image of schools, because parents care for nothing more than the security of their children and, if violence is depicted in the evening news about a particular school, parents will worry about it and it will be damaging to the school in the end.
This report, on the face of it, had the potential to seriously damage the image of this school. It is a school that has a fairly good record, in my view. I would hate to see it damaged by these sorts of reports. Indeed, even if there were a riot at Lyneham High School - or at any other school, for that matter - and there has not been, I think the media have to be very careful about how these sorts of things are reported. There can be a damaging effect on the school in the end, because parents have really no other recourse than to take their children out if they are worried about their safety. That is your first worry with your kids.