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Commission of Inquiry - Motion to Report to the House of Assembly

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 31 October 2023

Tags: Commission of Inquiry


On 28 September, this House passed a motion calling on you to report back with options to independently investigate the issues raised by the commission in volume 1, 5.1, 'Challenges We Faced' by 17 October. You are in breach of this motion, a motion that you supported. Despite your Government drafting the clause in question, you have not presented this House with options to independently investigate these issues.

The steps you have taken so far regarding this issue are entirely unsatisfactory and do not show the commitment needed to make sure that all those who have been involved in covering up or failing to act on child sexual abuse are held accountable. Will you unequivocally commit to an independent investigation into persons the commission wanted to make adverse findings against but was unable to?



Mr Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her question. We had a ministerial statement pertaining to these matters when we started the last session of parliament. Two independent reviews are currently being commissioned by the Department of Justice.

The first will review the application of Employment Direction No 16 and whether public officers who received a grant of legal assistance during the commission of inquiry acted in good faith and, if not, whether they should be required to reimburse the Crown for expenses incurred.

The second review relates to the commission's concerns relating to the operation of sections 18 and 19 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1995. That section, 194K, of the Evidence Act 2001 impacted on their ability to publish certain information. These legislative challenges should be referred to an independent and appropriately qualified body to consider and prepare a publicly available report.

Dr Woodruff - You did not bring these options back to the House and they do not cover what was asked.

Mr ROCKLIFF - To ensure these issues are considered appropriately, the reviewing body should also possess significant knowledge of Tasmanian law and legal practice alongside a sound understanding of the policy issues. The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) has been identified as the most appropriately qualified independent entity to undertake this review. The Attorney-General has made a referral to the TLRI board and asked them to consider this review.

Dr Woodruff - This will not deal with state servants and misconduct.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The terms of reference and final reports of both reviews will be made public. In addition, as I committed in my ministerial statement, I have tasked my department to commission an independent audit of all actions taken in response to the information and concerns raised by the commission regarding public officers employed in the state service. The results will be tabled in parliament and any suggestions or findings acted upon. This work will commence in early 2024.

I understand the member took in a briefing last week, alongside the Leader of the Opposition -

Dr Woodruff - That is why we are asking this question today. You did not answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - We have come to an agreement to have an extra week of sitting this year, with two days of GBE-like scrutiny of ministers and department heads and a final day sitting on Thursday when those matters can be further discussed. We will come to an arrangement and consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Greens and others within the parliament who may want to contribute to that discussion on the exact format of that week.

That is our comprehensive response to the commission of inquiry report in addition to those matters that have been raised at the tabling of the report, including the supplementary appropriation bill and those 30 actions that I announced in May last year.

Dr Woodruff - Point of order, Mr Speaker, Standing Order 45. I asked the question -

Mr SPEAKER - On the point of order, you do realise the Premier has only 10 seconds left.

Dr Woodruff - I asked the question specifically about responding to what the House required him to do.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. A point of order is not an opportunity to ask the question again. Unfortunately, the Premier -

Dr Woodruff - These other matters are important but they are not what you were asked to do.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Honourable member, we have two independent reviews currently being commissioned by the Department of Justice. I have gone through those matters -

Mr SPEAKER - Premier, your time is expired. The Greens have another opportunity, another question further in question time.