Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 963 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I hope the march is well attended and that we continue to see increased awareness and discussion here as well as in the broader community about child sexual abuse and general abuse, as Mr Cornwell points out. If we wanted to talk about general abuse and poverty, we could get right into lots of policy issues around the federal government and poverty and gender issues related to welfare, et cetera, but we cannot do that tonight, obviously.
MR CORNWELL: I seek leave to table a letter I wrote to the Canberra Times. Mr Quinlan challenged me to make some qualification. This is partly that qualification.
MR CORNWELL: I present the following paper:
Child abuse-National Rally-Copy of facsimile from Mr Greg Cornwell MLA to The Editor, The Canberra Times, dated 9 April 2002.
MS GALLAGHER (6.23), in reply: I thank members for their contribution on this motion. For the record, I never doubted Mr Cornwell's commitment to combating child abuse or his abhorrence of it. Nothing in my original address indicated that at all.
I think it is unfortunate that the Canberra Times did not give Mr Cornwell the opportunity to contribute to the article they published, other than by publishing excerpts from his emailed letter and drawing editorial from it. However, Mr Cornwell was not misquoted in the article, as he himself has agreed. I have read the letter, and I think it contains unfortunate statements which I do not agree with and which other members have referred to. I agree with the comments by Ms Tucker on that.
I say again that I do not question Mr Cornwell's concern over the prevalence of child abuse or his abhorrence of it.
When I was elected to the Assembly, a good friend said to me, "Never put anything in an email that you do not want to see appear on the front page of the Canberra Times." This is an example of why that is good advice.
This motion asks the Assembly to reaffirm its commitment to government action to protect children from abuse. As elected members of this community, we must be united in our approach-and I think we are-to address solutions to a social problem like child abuse. As community leaders, we have both a legislative and a moral obligation to deal with the serious issue of child abuse in a thoughtful, responsible and comprehensive manner.
The National March for Children is to be held this Sunday at 1 pm at Regatta Point, to march to Parliament House. It is being held across the country, but they are the details of the ACT march. I urge all members to attend this event to ensure the continuation of the pressure on all of those with a duty of care to our children.