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Child Protection - Safe Pathways

8 August 2017
 
Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mrs PETRUSMA

[10.11 a.m.]
Tasmanians now know as a result of the ABC obtaining leaked departmental documents you misled parliament over the wellbeing of 11 children who had been placed with Safe Pathways last year.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, I am going to pull the member up. You know you cannot make an allegation in a question like that. The only way you can make an allegation of a member misleading the House is by way of substantive motion. The member needs to withdraw that and rephrase her question immediately.

Ms O'CONNOR - Madam Speaker, I thank you for your guidance but the evidence is in black and white. I will work through this question and take the misleading out.

Madam SPEAKER - Rephrase your question or I will sit you down. It is not a time for debate or arguing with me.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, Tasmanians now know as a result of the ABC obtaining leaked departmental documents that you were not honest with parliament over the wellbeing of 11 children who had been placed with Safe Pathways last year. The Tuesday after Four Corners went to air, that is Tuesday 15 November 2016, you told parliament: 

"I have been advised the remaining children in Safe Pathways care are safe."

On the next day you told parliament:

"I have been assured by the Acting Deputy Secretary that every one of these 11 young people has been contacted by Child Safety Services. Further I can assure that each of them is safe and receiving appropriate care."

You made the same assurance four times in that sitting day despite your office having been told by the Acting Deputy Secretary in the morning before question time that he could not give that assurance. By our account, minister, you were not honest with parliament at least five times over the known wellbeing of 11 at risk children. How do you explain yourself?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Let us be quite clear and I will place on the record that I have been totally honest which has been confirmed not only by Mr Hidding speaking to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services but also by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services who has confirmed -

Opposition members interjecting.

Mrs PETRUSMA - They are not interested in the answer, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. A huge allegation has been made. The minister should be given the opportunity to at least answer and answer without interruption.

Mrs PETRUSMA - Let us be quite clear. The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed my office was provided with strong, clear, verbal advice confirming discussions that had taken place earlier that morning and that all the children in the care of Safe Pathways were safe prior to me advising parliament during question time.

Madam Speaker, I will repeat: no, I did not mislead parliament and yes, I have been honest that the department told my office the children were all safe and this had been confirmed by the department secretary. If the member wants me to repeat it five times I will repeat it five times. The department told my office the children were all safe.