Page 1093 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2012

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Thursday, 22 March 2012

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


Statement by minister

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Corrections), by leave: Mr Speaker, I thank you and I thank the members of the Assembly for giving me leave to speak on these matters. This week the opposition has asked a number of questions of me as minister for education. Many focused on the police investigation into an incident on 14 February.

On 14 February the police were called to a school. They began an investigation into a bullying incident. I am advised that this investigation concluded on 23 February. I am also advised that the police subsequently visited the school again on 1 March to conduct a community visit and talk to the school about such issues as bullying.

As I have said as recently as yesterday, as to police procedure you will need to question the police minister. The police were immediately called to the incident. They investigated and they concluded their investigation. That is most properly a matter for the police.

On 2CC I said that “the police are involved”. I apologise for using the wrong tense in my language. I should have said that they had been involved. It was a police issue and it was up to the police to determine the nature and timing of their investigation. Of course, it would not be appropriate for me to be involved in those operations.

As education minister I am confident that my directorate is doing everything it can to ensure all students have a safe place to learn. Throughout this time as minister for education my concern has been for all the students involved and for their educational outcomes. I have also sought assurances about the ongoing safety of all students in both government and non-government schools.

I have always been concerned about breaching the privacy of the students, families and staff involved and damaging the reputation of an excellent public high school. Just because one parent of the several parents involved chose to make public comments does not make it all right. Other parents have not chosen this route and they and their families should not be dragged into this publicly as a result.

I remain concerned that some members are manipulating the incident and subsequent investigation without regard for those involved. I am deeply concerned to see that a member of this Assembly has claimed that since the media has become involved members are somehow absolved of their fundamental responsibility to respect the privacy and wellbeing of school-aged children.

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