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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 2298..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

appropriate that the OCA and the chief executive of children, youth and family support have those dealings directly but, because of the nature of some of the history we have had in the past six months, I feel that if she were having trouble or had any concerns about how the department was dealing with that information she would feel comfortable about coming to me and letting me know about it.

Child protection

MR CORNWELL: My question is also to the minister for youth and family services, Ms Gallagher. I refer you to comments in response to a question, Minister, from me in March when you were either in a quandary or musing publicly:

I have asked myself the question: what led to my being given the briefing on the 11th? When we look back we find that there was a period of activity in the days leading up to the 11th that, it appears, prompted the department to put in place meetings with people, documents, guidelines, as you say, director's instructions and, in the final instance, a briefing to me.

I have some questions: if the department knew about this on the 8th, why wasn't I told about it; why wasn't I told on the 10th when they met with the Community Advocate; why wasn't I even given the courtesy of a call prior to my tabling the government's response, saying, "Hey, we are about to send you a fax. This relates to the tabling of your response and you might want to hold off on it"? I have some questions on all of these things that did not happen.

On 1 April-that might be significant-I asked you whether you had put these questions to your department. You responded that you were waiting for the outcome of the Vardon report. I seem to remember a similar excuse being used in relation to McLeod. Minister, we now have the Vardon report which is silent on these issues.

Have you asked these questions of your department since the Vardon report was delivered? If so, what did they tell you and did you demand these answers before you reinstated Ms Hinton as head of the department?

MS GALLAGHER: Again, the portfolio is Children, Youth and Family Support now, Mr Cornwell; not youth and family services. Thank you for reading out of Hansard. I recall making those comments. I repeated them when I was questioned on this in the estimates hearing actually about conversations that I may have had. Yes, I have had a conversation with the chief executive about the events that led up to my being briefed, and I'm satisfied with her response to my question.

In relation to the last bit of your question: I had the conversation with her after she was reinstated.

MR CORNWELL: A supplementary question: why should we, Minister, take comfort in your assurances that this will not happen again when no sanctions have been taken against senior bureaucrats or, indeed, ministers who have failed the community in this matter?

MS GALLAGHER: I wonder whether Mr Cornwell has actually read the report, because the report makes it clear that certainly Minister Corbell, I and Mr Stefaniak,


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