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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 722..


Mr Quinlan: It might be your new found passion.

MR CORNWELL: Mr Treasurer, I do not know what your interjection was, but we are dealing with children here, and I think it is important that we accept the responsibilities that these people count on.

Mr Quinlan: I am pleased to see your new found passion for this.

MR CORNWELL: Thank you. I have always had compassion for children. The problem I have is that other people do not. The other side of the coin, when things are followed up too enthusiastically, comes down to remarkably quick behaviour on the part of some family services organisations in Australia in relation to Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, where an alleged carer, usually the mother, deliberately harms a child to gain a physician's attention.

This problem has been debunked very thoroughly in the United Kingdom following the exposure of Sir Roy Meadow, the person who originally identified this. Three mothers have been released from jail because this man's evidence was shown to be false and flawed. But there is enthusiastic chasing up of what appears to be Munchausen's syndrome by proxy here in Australia. I hope that Family Services in the ACT are watching this matter very carefully because there is evidence, certainly in New South Wales, that the enthusiasm has been misplaced as it has been in the United Kingdom. I commend that point to the minister.

I look forward to a response from the government as speedily as possible on the nine recommendations of this committee so that we know where we are going on these important matters. I am particularly concerned about recommendations 1 and 2, and I also look forward to the minister advising me what action has been taken to ensure that mandatory reporting is in fact so reported.

MR HARGREAVES (11.27), in reply: To close the debate, I thank members for their contribution and thank the Minister for Education, Children, Youth and Family Services for acting so promptly when the issues of concern to the committee were raised. I am absolutely confident that in the next round of historical navel gazing none of these issues will be here other than as a congratulatory message.

Mr Cornwell: Excuse me, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Point of order, Mr Cornwell?

Mr Cornwell: It is not actually a point of order. I was wondering if the chairman-

MR SPEAKER: Well, it has to be.

Mr Cornwell: would like to move that the Assembly take note of the paper so the debate can be adjourned.

MR HARGREAVES: I did move that the report be noted earlier on in the proceedings. If we needed to have it adjourned-


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