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Child Sexual Abuse - State Service Employees - Allegations


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Tags: Commission of Inquiry, Child Abuse, Police

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN

Premier, so far 14 State Service employees have been stood down over allegations of child sexual abuse, yet because of your Government's attachment to secrecy, Tasmanian parents have no idea which fovernment departments these employees work for. We will continue to argue Tasmanians have a right to know where these people worked and whether they worked with their children. They also have a right to know why it took a year and relentless parliamentary questioning for the review to be initiated into Tasmania Police's handling of allegations made against James Geoffrey Griffin.

On Friday the most damning possible Tasmania Police outcomes report was released. Over 10 years Tasmania Police time and again failed Griffin's victims. One of the most disturbing bits of information in this report is the apparent failure to follow up on an Australian Federal Police report to Tasmania Police in relation to Griffin and sexual offending and child pornography. That report apparently went nowhere. This is a shocking failure that allowed Griffin to offend for a further four years.

Premier, the erosion of trust in law enforcement as a result of these failures is impossible to measure. What reassurance can you give victims of child sexual abuse and their families that this will never ever happen again?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank Ms O'Connor for her question. I do not think anybody in this place has a mortgage on looking after kids from child sexual abuse -

Ms O'Connor - I agree.

Mr GUTWEIN - That is our collective responsibility. The dates in that police report are across governments. I have apologised for this Government. It saddens me. It sickens me that the information released in the outcomes report points to the fact that there were touchpoints that could have been followed through.

On Friday I made the point that we are going to invest money and we are going to establish an historical review unit that looks back across agencies to ensure that where there are other touchpoints, where reports have been brought forward, not necessarily by a victim but by third parties, to ensure that we look and we understand what went on.

The other point, what am I prepared to do?

Ms O'Connor - Now.

Mr GUTWEIN - I can assure you the commission of inquiry is going to look into these matters. The weaponising of this issue is disappointing. In 2003 I risked my political career because I felt so strongly about this issue.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Could you please ask the Premier to withdraw the accusation, if it is directed at us, that we are weaponising this issue. We are asking questions on behalf of Tasmanians who have been left in the dark.

Madam SPEAKER - I will allow the Premier to explain himself.

Mr GUTWEIN - Care needs to be taken that this matter is not weaponised. I am pleased that the Leader of the Greens agrees with that and supports me on that particular point.

The point I was making is that I risked my political career back in 2003 when I supported a motion -

Ms O'Connor - Yes, brought by Nick McKim.

Mr GUTWEIN - I could then ask the question: what did you do during 2010 to 2014 when you sat around a Cabinet table?

The outcomes report was clear. There have been changes made to both legislation and practices since. I encourage victims to come forward. They will be treated seriously. What is different today compared to 2009 or 2011 or 2013 or even 2015 is that acts of parliament have been changed, new procedures have been put in place. As difficult as it will be, the commission of inquiry will conduct its business. I am certain that Tasmanians will be shocked and distressed by what that commission of inquiry hears, but it is the right thing to do.

I encourage and assure any victim who wants to bring a matter forward that it will be treated with the utmost seriousness. The processes of law will be followed. As a state, we are determined to ensure that we do this once, that we do it right and that the framework and the procedures provide the level of safety for our children that we all want.