Page 443 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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That is my view. I am sure there is more I could say. I am sure more will be said about me in relation to this matter, but I cannot support this motion today because I think the motivations behind it are not appropriate. I think the two parties involved here who have primary evidence to present have made their case very clear. They have made it public and we can now decide what we think on that. (Time expired.)

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.45): I rise today to support Mr Hanson’s motion calling for an independent and transparent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a community organisation which exposed ACT schoolchildren to a convicted criminal without the required working with vulnerable people clearance and to report in full to the Assembly by 30 June 2015.

Firstly, may I say this: I applaud Ms Burch for standing by her son and for standing up for her son. It is something any mother would do. I have enormous sympathy for the situation they find themselves in. Secondly, may I say I am sure it is a very difficult time for those involved and I hope everyone is getting the support and assistance they need during this time.

Ms Burch interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Minister Burch!

MS LAWDER: Nor is it about any particular organisation. It is widely acknowledged that this particular community organisation does great work in supporting young men in our community, in particular with its mentoring program.

Until Minister Burch and her colleagues started talking about the issue yesterday the opposition had been quite careful not to name the organisation or the individual concerned out of concern for them and their reputation. It is Minister Burch and her colleagues who have chosen to name names in this case so that they can then try to turn the argument around and accuse us of smearing their good names.

Mr Barr interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Barr!

MS LAWDER: This is not the case. I do understand that they feel attack is the best defence.

Ms Burch interjecting—

MADAM SPEAKER: Order! I do not want to have to warn anyone, but I will.

MS LAWDER: But they are not doing any favours to the organisation that they are so vehemently defending. To use the vernacular of Minister Burch, it is not about you. Let me be quite clear. This call for an independent and transparent inquiry is not about Ms Burch’s family either. It is about protecting the thousands of schoolchildren and other vulnerable people in our community. It is about the failure of the Minister for Education and Training to ensure that schoolchildren in the ACT are protected.

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