Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Police, Fire, and Emergency Management spokesperson
Police Minister Mark Shelton’s refusal to answer questions about his lack of action in the James Geoffrey Griffin matter is a shameful abrogation of his responsibility as a Minister.
In Budget Estimates today, the Greens questioned Minister Shelton about his involvement in the Griffin investigation. Initially the Minister read a general statement, and confirmed on further questioning he was notified about the matter on 23rd August 2019. Mr Shelton then refused to answer any further questions raised with him.
As a Minister of the Crown appearing before a Parliamentary scrutiny committee, Mr Shelton is supposed to answer questions.
Instead the Minister refused to answer a range of questions, including exactly who notified him of the Griffin matter, what he was told, whether he was told Mr Griffin would soon be charged, why Mr Griffin was allowed to continue working at the LGH – even after child exploitation material was found at his residence, and why he didn’t brief his ministerial colleagues on the matter, even when police charges were laid.
Minister Shelton may feel uncomfortable answering questions in relation to this matter, particularly given the details that have come to light in recent weeks. However, he is not exempt from scrutiny or accountability nor should he refuse to answer important questions.
It was particularly disturbing the Minister denied any need to examine whether the police processes that were followed in regards to this matter needed to change to protect children in future.
The Minister, and the police service he is responsible for, have an essential role to play in protecting Tasmania’s children. It’s breathtaking that Minister Shelton believes there’s no need to look at changing police practices, on the back of evidence from the handling of this most serious multi-agency case of child abuse.
The Minister can’t wash his hands of this highly troubling matter. He should provide a statement answering all questions raised in Estimates today.
If Minister Shelton won’t provide answers in the appropriate forum, Premier Peter Gutwein must intervene.