Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 947 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The terms of reference are extremely comprehensive. They include a review of ACT school education funding arrangements; a report and recommendations on current funding and resourcing arrangements to government and non-government schools; a policy framework and methodology for the identification of the relative needs of students; a policy framework and options for replacing and enhancing the current funding arrangements for government and non-government schools, which acknowledge the relative needs of students and which are financially sustainable into the future; and any transitional or other implications associated with the proposed funding methodology options.
I have also asked Ms Connors to take account of a range of issues. These include issues of effectiveness, equity, transparency, accountability, consistency, and predictability; the impact of Commonwealth government school funding policies, which is a significant issue; complementary research carried out by other Australian jurisdictions; the work of the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs task force on schools resourcing; and work on a needs-based funding model currently being developed by the Department of Education and Community Services.
I have already indicated that Ms Connors will be acting as an independent inquirer. Secretarial support is being provided by the Department of Education and Community Services, but she is not located within the department. She has offices in the O'Connell Education Centre, at Griffith. She has a small secretariat support team, and she has a good level of resourcing to ensure that she is able to undertake the expert research she requires.
For all those reasons, I think the proposal by Mr Pratt is not needed. It is simply an attempt to interfere in an independent investigation, one which is rightly in the province of the person appointed to conduct the inquiry. The government has full confidence in the consultant, has full confidence in the robustness and rigorous nature of the terms of reference and, indeed, based on the advice I have just provided to members on the proposed consultation process, has full confidence in the way she is going about her work. I urge members to oppose the motion.
MS TUCKER (5.16): Reading the words of this motion, I am concerned. I have to confess, I have not followed, word-for-word, everything that has occurred in this Assembly over the last few days regarding Mr Pratt's public statements about Ms Connors. I know there has been some intense debate, in which Mr Pratt said that he was not in any way slurring the reputation or character of Ms Connors. However, when I read this motion, I find that it says that we need to have a committee of reference that is:
representative of all sectors, to work with a consultant, Ms Connors, who has been appointed to conduct the Education Inquiry, so that the ACT community may be assured that the Government inquiry to be undertaken into our education system will be sufficiently balanced to review all relevant aspects of ACT education.
From my understanding of that sentence and the words "sufficiently balanced", it definitely contains the implication that Ms Connors is not capable, without this group, of producing a sufficiently balanced review. I think it is regrettable that this has been said.