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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 724

Senator PETER BAUME -Madam Acting Deputy President, under the provisions of standing order 408, I seek the indulgence of the Senate to make a personal explanation.

Leave granted.

Senator PETER BAUME —This morning's newspapers, especially the Canberra Times, carried a story concerning the preference of a large minority of Canberra government school parents to have their children in non-government schools. The story arose from a Press statement I made yesterday, based on a report which in fact was released by the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority today. On the mid-day Australian Broadcasting Corporation news I was criticised in the following terms-I will quote the item from the ABC news:

The ACT Schools Authority this morning has criticised an Opposition Politician for breaking the embargo on an unpublished Authority report. The report found that about 24 per cent of parents of children of ACT Government Secondary schools would prefer to send their children to non Government schools. A summary of the report was embargoed until lunch time today, but the Opposition Spokesman on Education, Senator Baume, revealed the contents last night. The Chairman of the ACT Schools Authority, Dr Richard Campbell, said he hoped a figure of public responsibility would not make public comments again before having read the full report. An open session of the Authority is being held today at the Garran Primary School.

I understand the position in which Dr Campbell finds himself and I understand his comments, but I would like to set the record straight. An embargo is an arrangement of honour made between parties whereby a document is made available on the basis that it will not be used publicly until a given, agreed time. The Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority did not, at any time, make any document available to me either on an embargoed basis or on any other basis. I have not breached any embargo because, in fact, I made no agreement, I was offered no document under embargo and no embargo agreement was sought from me. The document in question which I used came to me anonymously, without evidence of embargo, and I felt free to use it as I did. I finish by observing that had the Australian Capital Territory Schools Authority thought to provide me with a copy under embargo, as the Opposition spokesman on education, my Press statement would not have been issued and this morning's story would not have appeared.