Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994
Parliamentary Record 6
Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 23 November 1994 Following the incidents at one school, I raised the concern that no action appeared to have been taken by the department in terms o f examining how the incidents had been reported over a number o f years and the type of action that had been taken. It is my understanding that 2 or 3 inquiries were begun by the department, the last being by the Office o f the Public Service Commissioner. According to departmental officers and from talking to teachers, it appears that I was one of the people responsible for that inquiry being instigated. I had raised concerns about the way that the department had examined the issue. On a number o f occasions where I have tried to determine the status o f that inquiry, I was very disappointed to find that I was unable to obtain any information. I was told finally that the inquiry itself had been put on hold, awaiting the outcome o f the court case, on advice from the Department o f Law. It has been brought to my attention recently that the inquiry was all but completed and that recommendations were with the Department o f Education. I repeat that, as the person who raised many concerns, I am disappointed that no attempt was made at any time to speak to me about any o f those concerns. In fact, I have some concerns now about the motives o f the department and o f the minister in relation to stopping that inquiry from proceeding and preventing any o f the findings o f the inquiry from being implemented. I believe it is possible that, depending on how the inquiry was dealt with, it could have some prejudicial effect on the court case in that it could be seen as in some way trying to affect that. However, I believe many o f the issues that were to be dealt with by that inquiry could have been dealt with in such a way as to have no effect whatsoever on the court case. My concern is that the reason why the inquiry has been delayed is that the department would leave itself wide open to actions that might be taken against it by parents for negligence if an inquiry said publicly that the department and departmental officers may not have carried out fully all o f their responsibilities and that reports o f child sexual abuse over a number o f years had not been adequately dealt with. I understand that one o f the cases that is proceeding at the moment involved many students over many years. It is my concern that the department has moved deliberately to have that inquiry stopped in order not to help parents who may seek to take legal action against it. By the department delaying the release o f that report to as late a time as possible, over the school holidays or over Christmas when such things are often released, the passage o f time will be such that the parents will be glad simply that the court case is over and done with. They will want to forget it and get on with their lives. It is my concern that the department and the minister are selling those parents short by not providing the information that is required. I f the department has been negligent in its activities, the parents have a right to know that. I believe the inquiry should continue and that its findings should be made public. I am still disappointed that, as a person who supposedly raised many o f the issues that the report was based on, no one has had the decency even to ask me what the issues were. Despite the fact that I have only a few seconds left, I cannot resume my seat without raising the issue o f BCF fire extinguishers. We are talking today about matters that lead to injury and death o f individuals. I believe one of the worst miscarriages o f justice in the Northern Territory was the action o f the Department o f Law that led to the death of Mark Halliday. 1820
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