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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 949 ..

MR PRATT (5.21), in reply: The Democrats have made a couple of comments. I must agree with one point made by Ms Dundas when she spoke against the motion. She did make an excellent point: there is no need for an education inquiry. In fact, the previous government undertook sufficient inquiries and reviews to allow for the system to continue in its current form. However, I cannot agree with Ms Dundas' concern that there is therefore no need to examine the direction of this inquiry.

If the inquiry is a fait accompli, which it is, then we have a duty to scrutinise its establishment and its mobilisation. That is the duty of opposition. It is also the duty of Ms Dundas to look at this inquiry, and to be satisfied that the inquiry has been correctly established, and run in a professional and comprehensive way. I would hope that Ms Dundas, over the ensuing months, will also scrutinise the progress of the inquiry and question it when it should be questioned.

The minister says that there is general support from all major stakeholders. Well, he may think that, but there is very strong feedback from the community indicating that there is disquiet and alarm at the establishment of this inquiry. After all, the inquiry is being established under a sole consultant, and it is around this point that most of the concern centres.

The minister also states that he is concerned about the potential for division among stakeholders. I would have thought that it was patently obvious that the potential for division will surely be exacerbated if we do not have a broad representative inquiry with a committee of reference, or some other body, representing all the views of all the stakeholders, so that such a body, working together, will arrive at an outcome. Surely that is the best way to avoid division between the stakeholders? Surely having a sole consultant, with nobody else involved in the analysis and consultancy process, is a recipe for potential division among the stakeholders?

I said at the outset of the delivery of my motion that Mr Corbell will seek to characterise our questioning of this inquiry as a personal attack. Of course, he got up and proved that. I wonder why that is the approach. Does Mr Corbell not have a more constructive response to what is a legitimate debate, and one in which we have a responsibility to engage? Why create these smokescreens? Why create this bogeyman of personal attacks? One can only conclude that this is a smokescreen to mask the fact that this inquiry has been cobbled together in such a way as to be unprofessional.

I am talking about the inquiry being unprofessionally put together. Immediately, the minister leaps up, and I can just imagine what he is about to say: "My goodness, an attack on the professionalism of an individual." That is not the case. I have never done that, and I do not intend to.

Mr Corbell: No, you have just suggested that she is biased, that is all.

MR PRATT: That is not the case. I said that the way in which you have cobbled this inquiry together, minister, is unprofessional.

Mr Corbell: You have suggested that she is biased. That is an attack on her credibility.

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