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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 953 ..

MR CORNWELL (5.39): Mr Speaker, I have no problem with the first paragraph of Ms Gallagher's motion. I have a small quibble with paragraph (2), because I am not sure that you can commend the support shown for something that has not taken place yet. Never mind, I suppose you could speak in a general way.

I do have a great problem with paragraph (3), because I do not believe that my comments were uninformed. My comments were not given by me to the Canberra Times. Neither did the Canberra Times bother to contact me for any comment that I may wish to make to elaborate, to go a bit further or to correct. The failure of the Canberra Times to contact me was repeated in their Tuesday's paragraph, which I would have thought they might have followed up in a little more detail. Frankly, the Tuesday paragraph was worse than their comments on the Sunday, though-to be fair to them-there was a degree of accuracy in their Sunday comments.

I did not write as spokesman on community and family affairs. We may quibble on that, but my understanding is that all members received an invitation to this march. I claim therefore not to have been misquoted-that would be unfair-but most certainly misinterpreted. I think the easiest way of correcting that is for me to read the short letter that I sent to the people who were organising the march:

Thank you for your invitation to participate in a March for Children, April 14, and note that I will not be attending.

I have no quarrel with the aims of your cause, however I do question what positive purpose such a march will achieve.

There can be few people in Australia who are unaware of child protection issues. There are laws governing abuses, there is mandatory reporting and there will be further steps taken to improve protection of children-what is a march to achieve?

Further, to claim the march is not a protest is at best naive, at worst a state of denial and ignorance and I am not prepared to involve myself in such a charade.

I notice Hetty Johnston talks about "Continuing to deny that there is a problem ..."

I am not aware of any denial in official circles. Despite recent efforts to demonise a public figure for sins of omission in the past-an error for which most of the population would be found wanting in something-our institutions, particularly our religious faiths, now take the matter of child abuse very very seriously.

However, most child abuse still takes place within the family or the extended family: boyfriends, de-factos, uncles, stepfathers, grandfathers (or their female equivalents) and is another casualty of the sad freer world we have created by our society's more relaxed attitude to the marital state.

Rather than seeking to let the government know "how serious the community is about prevention, services and education" to quote Hetty Johnston, we should acknowledge and address this "family" issue.

Parents need to spend more time with their children, exercising their duty of care more vigilantly. This is where the state of denial and ignorance really lies and it is no use parent(s) seeking to blame the government or society-often with statements

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