Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 November 2011) . . Page.. 5382 ..
MS BURCH: I thank Mr Seselja for his question. The legal advice that was tabled yesterday is very clear and I refer you to it. The interpretation of the Children and Young People Act in the interim report, and I am referring to the Public Advocate says there was no breach.
Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Minister Burch, one moment, thank you. Stop the clocks. Mrs Dunne, on a point of order.
Mrs Dunne: Mr Seselja did not ask Minister Burch for an exposition on the advice provided yesterday. He asked for clarification as to the extent to which it is proper to place children with an organisation who are not suitable entities or who do not have general parental authority.
Mr Hargreaves: On the point of order, Mr Speaker, it is normally the case that the minister answering the question has a certain period of time to answer that question and can actually preamble the answer in the way in which he wants to set the context. Fourteen seconds into the answer does not constitute sufficient time for the minister to set that context.
MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, I am not going to uphold the point of order at this stage. We are only 20-odd seconds into the answer. Minister, I do expect you to come to Mr Seselja’s specific question before you sit down.
MS BURCH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do appreciate having more than 20 seconds to provide an answer.
It is clear in the advice that the director-general is able to make arrangements to provide safety and security for the children. The letter to which Mr Seselja made reference, dated 30 August—as I understand it, we are looking at the same letter—was making reference to a suitable entity. We have been very clear that NBSS was not ever appointed as a suitable entity. What we have also made clear is that the Solicitor-General’s advice provides clarity that the director-general can make placements, and those placements that were made in August and July were lawful.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Seselja.
MR SESELJA: Minister, to what extent were the best interests of the children held paramount when the directorate placed them with an organisation that had never been authorised as a suitable entity and had never held general parental authorisation?
MS BURCH: I thank Mr Seselja for the continued interest in this. Let us be very clear that the act sets out a whole range of standards around suitability and suitable entities. We also have out-of-home care standards that set a very high standard. In an ideal world all out-of-home care placements will be with a registered out-of-home care provider. Unfortunately there are times when that is just not able to happen. So we have two choices. We have a choice to remove the children from danger or to leave