Academic Says There Are at Least 10 Design Students More Deserving of $60,000 Scholarship in 2011 Than PM Tony Abbott’s Daughter Frances
By Vittorio Hernandez | August 9, 2014 12:29 PM EST
A design academic who was the former professor of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's daughter, Frances, filed a complaint with the Fair Work Commission against the Whitehouse Institute of Design for alleged dismissal and discrimination.
Melletious Kyriakidis was the one who leaked the $60,000 scholarship awarded to Frances Abbott, which he questioned because he believes there are more students deserving of the grant than the PM's daughter. He included the PM in the complaint.
"Even from her class I could name 10 people more deserving either for merit or financial need or both," Kyriakidis told the Australian Financial Review. However, he stressed that Frances was a hard-working and high achiever and even got a distinction for portfolio design.
Kyriakidis said, "Frances is a lovely person. I don't want this to be about her but I want this to be about fairness."
But that doesn't change the reality that "there were a lot more people more deserving [of a scholarship]," which led the professor to leak to the media the scholarship and resulted to his resignation in June after a school investigation found that he had violated student privacy.
He is represented by Harmers Workplace Lawyers, the same law firm behind the filing of sexual harassment charges against former Parliament Speaker Peter Slipper on behalf of James Ashby, an employee at the speaker's office.
Mr Abbott previously insisted that Frances was given the scholarship on merit, although she went through an interview only once, the scholarship was not advertised in the institute and the people in charge of awarding the scholarship have ties to her dad's Liberal Party. The PM also said there is no need to disclose the scholarship worth $60,000 even if MPs are required by law to disclose gifts worth more than $750 that go to their dependent children.
In response to the professor's complaint, Whitehouse Chief Executive Ian Tudor said, "We are appalled that a teacher would actively seek to comment publicly on the comparative academic merit of a former student to justify his own behaviour." But Tudor admitted the scholarship awarding was discretionary, although based on merit.
Besides Kyriakidis, a 20-year-old female student is under investigation for allegedly accessing confidential student records of more than 500 students at Whitehouse in relation to Frances's scholarship.
The investigation was condemned online by many commenters in the Web site Crikey.com, which reported the ongoing probe that could lead to a 2-year prison term for the student.
Klewso said the people behind the investigation could be one of Mr Abbott's terrorists. Others have expressed interest in donating to a legal fund for the student's defense.
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