Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mrs PETRUSMA
Yesterday in this place you could not provide any answers as to why the child protection system so epically failed 151 children on the north-west coast. Will you today explain to the Parliament and the Tasmanian people how and why the system failed vulnerable children to such an extreme extent. Given that your department knew about this failure to protect potentially at risk children in the north-west on 31 July, three weeks ago, are you seriously trying to tell us that there is not yet any clarity about what happened? Can you confirm that you have received briefing notes or a verbal briefing from your department before Monday? Do you understand why it is so very hard for us to believe that you have not? Is it true, as the CPSU claims, that the union was briefed before you and, if so, why did your department keep you in the dark? Why are you now keeping Tasmanians in the dark about the facts of this deeply concerning failure of your department and therefore of you as Minister?
Madam Speaker, as has been placed on the record a number of times now, I was informed about the allegations on Monday.
Ms O'Connor - No briefing at any point before that?
Mrs PETRUSMA - I received a briefing on Monday. When I received the briefing on Monday I asked the acting secretary of the department for an urgent report on the circumstances. We take this issue very seriously. We are deeply concerned by the allegations but I am not going to pre-empt the final report because we want the facts of the situation. Of the 151 cases, 95 have now been closed or submitted for closure. Of the remaining 56 notifications, advice directly received from the field is that there are no priority 1s and it would appear that many others will either be closed or referred to -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I specifically asked the minister if it is true that the union was briefed about this very serious situation before she was and, if so, why.
Madam SPEAKER - I am sure the Minister knows what the questions is and she is attempting to answer it. As we know, a lot of latitude is given. The questions are very lengthy, therefore equal latitude is provided to a minister to answer very lengthy questions.
Mrs PETRUSMA - If the member would check the Hansard from yesterday when I initially answered the first question, I said quite clearly that the unions were briefed on Wednesday.