Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 905 ..
Questions without notice
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for education, Mr Corbell. Yesterday in question time, Minister, you refuted the suggestion that you had misled the Weston Creek Community Council over IT grants for non-government independent schools by saying that in your letter of response to the Blue Gum School you indicated:
... requests would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Blue Gum would be welcome, as with any other non-government school, to detail any specific requests they had for IT support, which the government would then consider.
Minister, no doubt you have had a chance in the interval to peruse what you said to the Blue Gum School in that correspondence. Having done so, will you now concede to the Assembly that you said nothing of that sort to the school; that your letter indicates, on any reasonable reading, that there is no money for the Blue Gum School? You have shown a propensity in recent time to dig in and deny whenever inconsistencies in your public statements are brought to light. Do you have the courage today to say clearly and unambiguously to the Assembly, "I got it wrong"?
MR CORBELL: I have no need to do that, Mr Speaker, because the letter from Blue Gum School was written on an assumption which was wrong. The assumption was that there were specific dedicated sums of money available for individual schools. I made it clear to them that that was not the case. There are no individual parcels of money for individual independent non-government schools. The government is open, consistent with it election commitment, to look at individual specific requests for IT support.
MR HUMPHRIES: I ask a supplementary question. The minister made this statement in the house yesterday in respect of the Blue Gum School:
I indicated in my response that there was no specific allocation and that the requests would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Blue Gum would be welcome, as with any other non-government school, to detail any specific requests they had for IT support, which the government would then consider.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Humphries, no preamble.
MR HUMPHRIES: Do you agree that this statement is inconsistent with what you have just told the house? How do you reconcile the statement that you were merely indicating that there was no entitlement to the school with the statement you made yesterday that requests would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis? Did you not say to that school, on any reasonable reading of that letter, that there was no money?
MR CORBELL: I made the point that the government's policy position was clear on this issue. There is no dedicated sum of money available to any individual school to use as it sees fit, but there is the capacity for schools to detail specific requests for IT support and those will be considered by the government.