Hacker's email raises minister's hackles
Public school teachers tweeted that it was ''too good to be true'' after an email claiming to be from the NSW director-general of education censured the O'Farrell government's cuts to the education budget.
A hacker had infiltrated the email account of the director-general, Michele Bruniges, and sent a message to all Education Department staff that the funding cuts to public education would put further stress on teaching staff and education standards, the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said.
''It is an injustice that pledges made by the O'Farrell [government] at the last election regarding education in NSW have not been kept and that infrastructure in NSW is being given a higher priority than public education,'' the email says.
''The protests sent to my office are noted but should be directed to the ministers responsible as this office has not been involved in the construction of these visions and is only the conduit for delivery.
''Staff may not formally contact the media or the minister's office directly but students and family members are free to exercise their rights of free speech should they choose to do so.''
Yesterday, Mr Piccoli told Parliament that the director-general's email account had been hacked and the person responsible could face criminal charges.
Greg Prior, who is the acting director-general while Dr Bruniges is on leave, sent another email to all department staff to say the email claiming to be from Dr Bruniges was a fake.
He said the department's IT section was investigating ''this very serious breach''.
''I wish to state that these emails were not written or endorsed by the director-general or any of her staff,'' Mr Prior said.
Mr Piccoli, who has faced criticism from teachers and principals over the government's decision to cut $1.7 billion from the education budget over four years, said the person responsible for the computer hacking could face criminal charges.
Mr Piccoli said he was angry and offended that Dr Bruniges had been misrepresented.
''Hacking people's computers is a crime,'' he said. ''And so is, I believe, misrepresenting yourself as somebody else and you can be assured that the Department of Education will take every measure it can to find the person or people who have done this.
''Those people ought to not underestimate my determination that they be found and be punished in the most severe way possible.''
The NSW Teachers' Federation announced last month that it would stage a community action day in the city and in regional areas next month to protest against the education budget cuts.