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Thursday, 14 June 1984
Page: 3027

Senator GILES —Is the Minister for Education aware of the report in today's Canberra Times concerning the premature release and selective quotation by Senator Baume of extracts from the Australian Council of Education Research's monograph 'Sex Bias in ASAT?' Does she have any comment to make on it?

Senator RYAN —I am aware of the report. I must say that it is regrettable that the Canberra Times article and its heading are misleading. No doubt this is due to the performance of Senator Baume in this place yesterday. In the first place it would seem that Senator Baume has been characteristically very selective in his quotations from and interpretations of the ACER report. Honourable senators will be able to judge that for themselves next week when the report is released. I am advised by the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority that the document, part of which was tabled yesterday by Senator Baume, points to the impact, among other things, of low levels of confidence of female candidates on their performance in the Australian scholastic aptitude test. That is an issue which anyone concerned with the welfare of all students would wish to address. Secondly, Senator Baume is wrong when he says that I was involved or that I intervened in the decisions to make an adjustment in the scores of the 1983 ASAT candidates in the ACT. That decision-this is well known by Senator Baume and I would have thought well known by the Canberra Times-was made by the ACT Schools Authority on the advice of its representative accrediting agency. The agency was in turn advised by an independent expert committee. The decisions resulting from the consideration of the ACER report are the responsibility of the ACT Schools Authority, which I remind the Senate enjoys statutory independence from the Government. I think it is unfortunate on two scores: That Senator Baume has yet again chosen to make wildly misleading statements in this chamber and that the Canberra Times has chosen to print them.