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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2634..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Persons, including corporate entities, who have achieved qualification for this sale will presumably be experienced individuals or commercial entities who have some understanding of the way land is made available in the ACT. And they will understand that they are purchasing not freehold property subject to local council planning controls, but an ACT commercial lease. They will understand that an ACT commercial lease means that you can only conduct the activity contained or approved in the lease. The activities in this lease, it seems to me are clear.

This only reinforces that all information was provided consistently and fairly throughout this process.

MR SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.

Children—care and protection

MRS BURKE: My question is to Katy Gallagher as minister responsible for family services. Minister, earlier this week I asked you about the number of children in the ACT who had had contact with the Office for Children, Youth and Family Services as they were in at-risk situations and who had tragically died. This week we have seen press reports from Western Australia and yesterday there was another report—this time from Queensland in the Courier-Mail—outlining the number of children who had died and who had had contact with departmental case workers in those two jurisdictions.

Minister, you and your officials have now had two days notice to provide an answer on this matter. I am sure that you will agree that one death is one death too many. Minister, how many deaths have there been of children who have been in contact with the department in the past two years?

MS GALLAGHER: Mrs Burke is right; I have had two days. Of course, I had leave of absence from the Assembly yesterday, so I was not in a position to respond then. Today's question time is the first opportunity. I have an answer to give at the end of question time and I thank Mrs Burke for giving me the opportunity to talk now on this very important matter.

I begin by saying that I was very sad to see, following question time on Tuesday, that Mrs Burke had not waited for my answer to the question and had actually gone and done a media interview on this very tragic subject of the number of children who have died in the territory and had alleged that there had been nine infants over the past 18 months who had passed away and who were known to care and protection and that she knew that little was done to protect them. The decision that she made to use a tragic event like the death of a child to get her name on TV without waiting for the answer and the truth on this matter was absolutely appalling, and she is a disgrace to this Assembly for that reason alone.

The answer is not nine infants. Mrs Burke obviously dreamt up that number. The reference to nine infants over the last 18 months was incorrect and the statement that little was done to protect them was incorrect. I look forward to a media release from Mrs Burke clarifying that and apologising to the families of those children who have passed away for the pain that she has caused to those families by making that statement. It is the lowest of the low that I have seen in this Assembly.

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