Both teachers and the media were not allowed to ask the Education Minister questions yesterday over the impending loss of rental subsidies.
The NT Education Department has instead questioned the Katherine Times over the leaking of an internal school email to teachers yesterday gagging them from raising the issue.
Education Minister Selena Uibo toured two Katherine schools yesterday on the federal election trail with federal deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek and Lingiari MHR Warren Snowdon.
The Katherine Times approached Ms Uibo in person to comment on the rental subsidy controversy but she refused to comment, referring us instead to her office.
Local teachers were outraged to discover over the holidays they were to lose their rental subsidies under the NT Budget's fix.
The NT's deputy Opposition leader Lia Finocchiaro said the move to gag teachers was "deplorable".
"It is an unprecedented move to prohibit public servants from raising their concerns with a visiting Labor politician.
"It is a blatant backflip on the Gunner Labor Government's promise to be open and transparent, and a move to block bad press and to cover up an unpopular decision."
These are the questions we wanted to ask the Minister.
Has the NT Government decided to remove rental subsidies for Katherine teachers or not?
Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson has said no firm decision has been made.
Are you not able to find $500,000 savings from some other area of department spending and not risk the loss of our teachers?
Teachers are telling their union, the Australian Education Union, they fell betrayed and are making plans to leave.
Did you consult on this move with the teachers before announcing it publicly over the holidays?
The AEU says you did not.
How long will teachers have before the subsidy is removed?
Many of them have signed six to 12 month leases for rental accommodation in Katherine.
Did you instruct the schools, or have knowledge of, the advice sent to teachers not to ask you questions?
Have you considered that schools may have to dip into their own tight budgets to recruit staff in a town which already has the highest turnover of school staff in the NT?
How can teachers communicate their questions/concerns/comments to the Government?
Do you expect teachers will leave Katherine as a result of this decision?
Was local member Sandra Nelson consulted over this move before it was announced?
Thank you Ms Uibo, we would appreciate a response to these questions which will communicate to the worried town teachers.
We have already forwarded this questions, as advised by Ms Uibo, to her office.