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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 2099..

Child protection services

MRS BURKE (1.27 am): Normally I would rise on this occasion to be fairly positive, as is my wont, but unfortunately tonight I am left with no option but to stand and state how concerned I am at the delay in the release of the Vardon report. I, like all members, received a media release from the Chief Minister today which states:

Ms Vardon has informed the Chief Minister that she will provide the report to the Government on Monday 17 May 2004.

I remind members that this is an extremely important report. Care and department officials are waiting on the report. The whole sector is in limbo until this report is handed down. There have already been two delays on this report. It was initially scheduled for release on 16 April. At the end of March a three-week extension from the original reporting date was granted-I appreciate that it was at the request of the Commissioner for Public Administration. On Thursday, 6 May, another extension was granted until today. But here we are today and still no report. Because of the urgency, severity and gravity of the issues, I had asked right at the beginning for an interim report to be issued. When I spoke to Ms Vardon she had enough information and probably could have done that; I am disappointed that she did not.

I am disappointed at the leadership that has or has not been shown to this sector which is relying on the report to make some changes. For the public record, I express my extreme disappointment in this government, which, for whatever reason, is withholding the report until Monday. It just does not seem right to me. It is going to take nearly another week for the government, quite rightly, to look at the report. I do not know the reason behind yet another delay. I am disappointed but I look forward to the report. The next step, obviously, will be to implement the key recommendations to improve child protection.

Child protection services

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (1.29 am): Mr Speaker, I rise to quickly address some of the comments made by Mrs Burke. My understanding is that the reason behind the delay is that Ms Vardon has been ill this week with the flu and has had several days off work. In relation to the comments in the Chief Minister's media release, the intention is to get the report out as soon as possible; however, we do not think it is unreasonable that a report of such significance should have the attention of the government for at least a week after receiving it. That decision by the government has been largely brought about by stakeholder requests.

Mrs Burke commented about people being left in limbo. Those people would like to have some briefings on the report and some understanding of what it may say. That is the reason-

Mrs Burke: That's not what it's saying. You're saying something else now.

MS GALLAGHER: No, I am not saying anything else. I am not going to debate this with you; I am just telling you the way it is. The government is going to have that report

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