Page 441 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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interest? The evidence that we have before us to try and draw a conclusion on this comes from two sources. It comes from the statement that Ms Burch made to the Assembly yesterday as well as the many questions she answered during question time. Then we have the comments made by Menslink, including in the statement that they issued this morning.

Both of those sources have indicated that Ms Burch did not make a special request. Ms Burch was adamant about this in her statement to the Assembly yesterday. She was very clear. She was very precise in her words, in her statement. The Menslink statement is equally clear. I will quote from it, as Mr Barr has. I will also quote from it, because I think it is important. It is very clear. It states:

Martin Fisk … approached Lloyd Burch directly to talk in schools, after learning of his sentencing deferral.

It goes on to say:

At no point in time did Minister Burch or her staff approach Martin Fisk or any other Menslink staff or Board member to request her son be involved in the school-based programs conducted by Menslink.

It also talks about the letters of support that were provided to the court for Lloyd Burch that are on the public record. Minister Burch was clear yesterday in her comments—she was transparent about it—that she did ask for a reference for her son on the advice of her legal counsel, as other parents would. I think there is transparency in that. People can form a judgement on whether they think that was appropriate or not but I do not think there is any lack of clarity about the role Ms Burch played. That is the information we are privy to today and with which we are able to assess the merits of the case and this motion.

I will turn to Mr Hanson’s motion at this point in the debate. Mr Hanson has sought to establish an independent and transparent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding these events and to report in full to the Assembly by 30 June. He has done that for a number for reasons, which are stated in part 1.

I think the key issue that Mr Hanson has been getting at in both his motion and his remarks is a sense that information has not been provided. I think we now find ourselves at a place where that information has been provided. I think it is certainly regrettable that this took as long as it did to get to this point. I might say that it is at moments like these that, as much as I work with them, I struggle to understand my ALP colleagues at times.

I do not understand why the approach is to bunker down and not answer questions when they are asked. I do not understand why they fail to understand the community’s right to have an explanation and to have questions answered. I understand the reluctance in the sense that Ms Burch at least considered this a private matter. But unfortunately we do operate in a sphere where sometimes things move beyond the personal domain and there does reach a point where questions need to be publicly answered.

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