Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 November 2007) . . Page.. 3360 ..
MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mrs Dunne?
MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, how is it that once again this issue has been brought to your attention not by your department but by the media or some other outside body? Why was this issue so badly handled by you, including not addressing the issue for over a week, calling the girl a liar on local television and in this place airing her school record?
MR BARR: In response to Mrs Dunne, if someone brings forward a wild allegation which seeks clarification and it is categorically stated not to be true, is it the expectation that I will then go to the media and fuel the story by saying, “No, the allegation that X, Y and Z made is not true”? My office made that clear to the media outlets on numerous occasions. The particular student, it would seem, and the family were offered money by one of these interstate media outlets to tell their story. That, I think, is the issue that should be of particular concern. I responded, and my media adviser responded, to the various approaches from 2CC and from some of the interstate media organisations as well as, eventually, from the Canberra Times and WIN, and stated the position that was consistent throughout—that this never occurred. Let me repeat, for the benefit of Mrs Dunne and all of the muppets on the frontbench here, that this never occurred. For the shadow minister for youth affairs and the shadow education minister to peddle this story in the way they have shows their total disregard. I don’t know how many times we had to deny that this event ever took place. We have done that consistently.
Mr Pratt: Have you covered this as well as the Campbell high school saga?
MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt!
MR BARR: I have responded consistently throughout that this event never took place. This ongoing campaign by the Liberal opposition proves again the point that the Chief Minister and others have made. It highlights their real attitude to public education. This is a campaign to run down an outstanding school. Stromlo high school has an outstanding reputation and it deals passionately and very carefully with all of its students. It is a school that works very hard with all of its students to assist them to complete their studies. I repeat: if there is some good that can come out of this entire incident, with the muck raking from the opposition and the rubbish we get from the interstate media, it is that this student will finish year 10 and get assistance to quit smoking. They are the two positives that can come out of this, and I am very pleased to be able to say that I am confident and I know that the staff at Stromlo high school are working very hard to achieve both those outcomes, and that is the important thing here. Eventually, once Mrs Dunne has got over her fixations with gates and with rude innuendo, we might be able to move on and focus on the needs of this student, and be able to provide the assistance, and to have unanimous support in this chamber for the response of the school to provide assistance, to this student to finish year 10 and to be able to assist her to quit smoking. They are the two important things that should come out of this.