Tasmanian teachers' bank accounts raided
By Shayne McCallum
HOBART — Outrage has erupted among Tasmanian teachers over revelations by a Tasmanian building society senior executive that money has been deducted from teachers' personal accounts without their approval.
The deductions, made to reclaim money inadvertently overpaid, were made at the request of the Department of Education and the Arts. Tasmanian Green Independent MP Christine Milne has documented five cases of department-initiated withdrawals since July.
The incidents have embarrassed the minister for education, John Beswick, who has been accused of misleading parliament. Speaking in parliament on March 10, Beswick said, "In no way is the Education Department responsible for withdrawing funds ... It is totally incorrect to suggest that the Department of Education and the Arts has access to teachers' bank accounts."
This protestation was shown to be false when Norman Holder, chief executive officer of Bass and Equitable Building Society, said that money had been withdrawn. In one case $1769.44 had been withdrawn from an account while the teacher was overseas.
Beswick's response has been to call an inquiry into the affair, but it would seem that this will not be enough as pressure is mounting for him to resign.