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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 822 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

What do we have from the Liberal Party? Without any assessment of Ms Connor's credibility or experience, without any look at, or comment on, the terms of reference or the adequacy of the inquiry, they have simply attacked the personal integrity of the inquiry head. No substance, not detailed analysis; simply playing the man and not the ball. I find the approach adopted by Mr Pratt to be unacceptable. Will Mr Pratt apologise to Ms Connors for the slur on her reputation? That is what he has done. He has slurred the reputation of a prominent educationalist. I know that Ms Connors is just moving on. She does not really worry about these things, and I am sure she will deliver an excellent comprehensive and thought-provoking report.

Mr Pratt should think again. If he is unable or does not have the integrity to issue such an apology to Ms Connors, then his leader should pull him into line. They have refused to apologise to date, and I think their approach has been unacceptable. What is more, the Liberal Party has sought to deliberately interfere in the conduct of an independent inquiry. The Leader of the Opposition and Mr Pratt, a week or so ago, said, "We think the inquiry should be run this way. We want to see a committee established to work with the inquiry head." Clearly, they do not understand the concept of an independent inquiry. You appoint somebody to conduct the inquiry, and you let them get on with the business of the inquiry.

It is not the government's role to say to the inquiry head, "We want the inquiry conducted in a particular way." We set the terms of reference. They are very clear on the issues we want the inquiry head to address, and I have no doubt that Ms Connors will conduct the inquiry in an appropriate manner.

The approach adopted by the Liberal Party has been confrontationist, ill thought through and provocative. It has sought to undermine the independence of that inquiry. It is an unfortunate start to one of the most important pieces of work into the future of the ACT education system since self-government, but it is one that will not deter this government from working to improve education outcomes for all students in the territory.

Independent schools-funding

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for education. Mr Corbell, in response to Mrs Cross' supplementary question about whether or not funds had been made available, I refer to your letter, which says:

At this juncture, no funds have been made available for any independent school for the specific purpose of providing information technology.

Your feeble excuse was: "No-one has asked for any." How do you reconcile this with the request for funds by the Blue Gum School on 7 February? I quote:

It would be a great relief to receive some assistance from the government. Could you please advise us of our entitlement as a matter of urgency, as we cannot afford to expend our limited funds unnecessarily.

Minister, have you misled the Assembly?

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