Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 9 December 2010) . . Page.. 6078 ..
MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (12.05), by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 to 5 circulated in my name together [see schedule 2 at page 6172].
These amendments clarify the privacy provisions and ensure that the only information that is available to the public is where the teacher has a full or provisional registration or a permit to teach. The Greens do not believe any further information is reasonably necessary for the public. It is appropriate that the public have confidence and can be assured that teachers are registered, but we believe no more than that needs to be released publicly.
The other amendment inserts a reasonable excuse clause to ensure that, where people take all reasonable steps to obtain a criminal history report but are unable to do so, they will not be discriminated against because of factors beyond their control. This particularly came up in cases where people may have lived overseas in a few different countries where it becomes very difficult to get hold of some sort of report for the time they lived in those countries.
I note the minister’s response to the scrutiny report on this matter. The list provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will, of course, be a relevant factor. It is important to create a formal mechanism in the legislation to ensure this. As I said, these amendments were very much in response to issues that were raised in the scrutiny of bills and subordinate legislation report, and I commend the amendments to the Assembly.
MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (12.07): I would like to comment on Ms Hunter’s story about my suggesting a conspiracy of the membership of the scrutiny committee. I was not suggesting a conspiracy, Ms Hunter; I was simply suggesting that after five pages of issues that the scrutiny committee covered, it seems strange that you feel your amendments will cover all those issues. You have given us a shorter time frame than the government to consider your amendments. We do not believe they fully address all the repercussions of maintaining privacy for teachers and ensuring probity in program accreditation.
Although we find merit in the Greens’ amendments regarding clauses 32(1)(a), 33(1)(a) and 35(1)(a), we have issues with clause 42(5). With regard to privacy accorded to teachers, we must be mindful that, unlike the case involving doctors, dentists, architects and the like, parents do not directly contract the services of school teachers. This is the work of schools and, as such, teachers should be granted greater scope for privacy.
This amendment does not address the core of this issue. Given the limited time frame for consideration already outlined, the amendments proposed are yet another example of a rush job. As such, we cannot accept these amendments. Teachers and their rights deserve greater consideration than this. We need to focus on quality and lift it from being just a catchword for government spin. That said, I reiterate, once again, our support for a teacher institute in the ACT. As such, we will support this bill. As the teacher quality institute according to the ACT’s national partnership implementation plan will not be fully registered and certifying teachers until 2012, there is ample time