Page 5322 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2011

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MS GALLAGHER: Okay. “It was one of the first things I did.” It does not matter. “One of the first things I did was introduce a poor, disgraceful tax—a poor tax, a disgraceful tax. Yes, I introduced it but, Zed, okay. Sure. I will take that one. I will cop it. All of a sudden I will have a complete change of heart. Something that was targeted to assist families is now there as a cost on families.” What a joke.

MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Le Couteur): The discussion is concluded.

Children and young people—residential care placements

Statement by minister

Debate resumed.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.53): I thank the minister for the chutzpah, I suppose, in tabling the statement this morning. The exercise that we saw this morning was an exercise in self-justification and an attempt at self-exoneration. What we had this morning was the Government Solicitor being asked to pull the government out of a hole by some fairly creative interpretation of the law.

If you look really closely, tilt your head sideways, squint a bit and interpret and read enough sections and enough extrinsic material together, you could come to the conclusion that on 24 occasions when the care and protection service gave children into the care of people who were not authorised to care for them—and on occasions gave them to care where there was no hot water, there was insufficient electricity to provide heating in the middle of winter, there was broken glass on the floor, there were broken windows in the building, there were no beds, there was insufficient bedding and the persons given the responsibility by the care and protection service to look after those children were not authorised to do so—no law was broken. What this all boils down to is the Solicitor-General saying that if you look at the extrinsic material, look at the responsibilities of the chief executive, look at section 19 of the act and take into account a whole lot of other things, really the chief executive could do basically what he wanted with these children who are in his care.

Let us look at what section 19 of the act actually says. Section 19, which is what the Solicitor-General relies upon when he says that the chief executive can do just about what he wants with these children, says:

Daily care responsibility for children and young people

(1) A person who has daily care responsibility—

who could be the chief executive—

for a child or young person has responsibility for, and may make decisions about, the child’s or young person’s daily care.

And it gives examples of the decisions that you could make about a young person’s daily care. They include “where and with whom the child or young person lives”.

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