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Recyclopedia Britannica: MLA surfs web for $13,000 study tour report

Liberal MLA Steve Doszpot.

Liberal MLA Steve Doszpot. Photo: Colleen Petch

A Canberra Liberals MLA cut and pasted the majority of a report on a $13,000 taxpayer-funded study trip to Britain from Wikipedia and other online sources.

Steve Doszpot's report on a four-day London seminar passes off material from Wikipedia, British government websites and the seminar's program as his own work.

Mr Doszpot travelled to London for the Westminster seminar on parliamentary practice and procedure in June, during the Assembly's select committee on estimates hearings for the ACT budget.

The 10-day trip, which included the four-day seminar from June 17 to 21, cost $12,936, according to the study trip report.

Mr Doszpot's 23-page review, filed in August to the Legislative Assembly, is copied almost entirely from other sources, particularly the seminar's program.

The opposition's education spokesman copied the material almost word for word, except for the occasional change in tense.

One section on women in parliament is cut and pasted from the Wikipedia page for Baroness Jan Royall, the opposition leader of the House of Lords. Another page is largely copied from the website of British Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, including that "she lives in Colliers Wood with her sister Margaret, within five minutes' walk of the house where she was brought up and where her mum, a retired nurse, still lives".

The report also uses tables from the British Parliament website that are outdated because the data is changed on a regular basis.

The introduction for the report is written by Mr Doszpot.

ACT MLAs can be reimbursed or given a cash advance for overseas travel on official Assembly business.

But they must submit details of that travel to the Assembly, including a report on any business or training undertaken.

Mr Doszpot said on Thursday the Assembly's clerk had checked his report before it was finalised and submitted. He said it was not his intention "to pretend it was anything other than what it is".

"Naturally I have used information sources to put this report together, but it was never my intention to pretend it was anything other than what it is," Mr Doszpot said.

"It is a report to demonstrate my attendance for the Legislative Assembly and provide background information on the event."

Education Minister Joy Burch said "if Mr Doszpot were a student submitting this report for assessment, he would get an 'F' for originality".

"We teach our kids that it's wrong to pass off other people's work as their own, and as the shadow minister for education Mr Doszpot should be setting a better example," she said.

40 comments

  • Actually Minister Burch, plagiarism attracts a worse penalty than an "F for originality". How Mr Doszpot can in all conscience keep his job is hard to fathom. Surely he should have to return the $13,000 and apologise to taxpayers at a minimum. I know a few excellent Teacher-Librarians who could instruct him about how not to plagiarise but then this sounds like laziness rather than an honest mistake.

    Commenter
    JohnnyCash
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    October 04, 2013, 6:29AM
    • I don't know of any other local councils where they are allowed to travel overseas.

      Commenter
      stoney
      Date and time
      October 04, 2013, 6:40AM
      • Leichardt in Sydney for one but I totally agree with your sentiment.

        Commenter
        BBA
        Date and time
        October 04, 2013, 10:22AM
    • Value of the content is not proportional to the length of a document. A few pages of observations may have sufficed. It would be interesting to know what the "author's" thoughts were, although that may be reflected in what he copied. My initial thoughts are that he must have gotten little from the trip - if that is the case he should have said so. In any case, I might have a little more confidence in Mr Doszpot's integrity if he had acknowledged his sources in the original document. As it is, it just reinforces the poor perception (I have) of our political leadership and the people who select them.

      Commenter
      GentlemanAuditor
      Date and time
      October 04, 2013, 6:47AM
      • I am not surprise at all, most of the MLAs are not qualified people to represent us. Why he has to go to London in the first place. Wasting time and dollars typical of politicians taking advantage of our tax.

        Commenter
        Robilant
        Date and time
        October 04, 2013, 7:06AM
        • Please make cheque out to the Australian Taxpayer Account for $13K today. Honestly what a disgrace. Should be banned from taking anymore tax payers junkets.

          Commenter
          Sarah of Carnegie
          Date and time
          October 04, 2013, 7:14AM
          • Surley you mean write the cheque out to the ACT rate payer. Being from Carneige (presumably in Victoria) I could forgive you for not knowing thatthis guy is an ACT MLA, which is our local government and since 1989 the ACT has been in self administration.

            Commenter
            Jimmy
            Date and time
            October 04, 2013, 11:29AM
        • Why are we never disappointed in what our pollies will do to get more money?

          And these are the things we know about, what don't we know?

          Fed up with all of them.

          Commenter
          Tc
          Date and time
          October 04, 2013, 7:15AM
          • Yet another day, yet another politician demonstrating contempt for the electorate. He should resign, or refund the trip cost. Study trips - just another phrase for "rort the public coffers"

            Commenter
            Cobbcres
            Location
            ACT
            Date and time
            October 04, 2013, 7:19AM
            • Silly old bugger.

              Commenter
              solomom
              Location
              brisbane
              Date and time
              October 04, 2013, 7:40AM

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