Page 5000 - Week 13 - Thursday, 12 November 2009

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Motion by Mr Stanhope proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Schools—student suspensions

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Planning, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Gaming and Racing) (4.32): In August of this year the Assembly endured one of those occasional debates which when they occur always remind me of Alexander Pope’s enduring words: “what mighty contests rise from trivial things”.

You will recall, Madam Assistant Speaker, that Mr Doszpot and I had a difference of opinion about the meaning of some statements by Mr Doszpot about the Shaddock review and Catholic and independent schools. I expressed my opinion about Mr Doszpot’s statements in a letter to the Non-Government Schools Education Council.

Mr Doszpot’s reaction? Not to clarify his statements; instead he used a vote of the Assembly to try and make me change my opinion. Yes, in August Mr Doszpot moved in the Assembly that I must change my opinion and state that I had changed my opinion. And after he moved that, if I didn’t change my opinion, which of course I did not, then the Speaker would write to the Non-Government Schools Education Council saying I had misrepresented him and saying that I had inadvertently used my position of authority.

And so it happened, Madam Assistant Speaker; it really was an extraordinary debate and an extraordinary decision—an extraordinary approach to a difference of opinion between politicians.

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Madam Assistant Speaker: I would just like to draw your attention to Mr Barr’s words.

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Le Couteur): Mrs Dunne, can you please stop. Gentlemen of the opposition, if you want me to hear Mrs Dunne you will have to shut up.

Mrs Dunne: I would like to draw your attention to Mr Barr’s words. He is coming very close to reflecting upon the vote of the Assembly and the subsequent actions of the Speaker in response to the vote of the Assembly.

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Thank you. I think he has not yet managed to do that, but Mr Barr please bear this in mind. Clerks, please restart the clock.

MR BARR: As I said at the time, I was worried that it would set a precedent, that every time someone wrote a letter that someone else disagreed with the Assembly

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