Page 2320 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

I did not know young Jack Hartigan or his family until this morning, when I met them. I should welcome them—they are sitting in the gallery with us this morning. I thank them for being here. My involvement with their case has come about at the request of their lawyers seeking my support for their ex gratia payment request to the Chief Minister which, after getting a background briefing from them, I have supported. I raised the matter with the Chief Minister in estimates a month ago, which elicited a surprisingly angry and lengthy response from him, and I received a letter from the Chief Minister rejecting the ex gratia payment with justification based on legal outcomes.

It may be appropriate for the Chief Minister and his advisors to revisit the definition of ex gratia and, in addition, the Chief Minister’s much-used expression “compassionate and caring”, which seems to be a crucial missing element in the way that his ACT government has dealt with the Hartigan family.

On 26 May 2017, I wrote to the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, about the matter and expressed support for an application by the injured boy’s lawyers to the Chief Minister and ACT government for an ex gratia, or “act of grace”, payment with regard to the serious injuries and ongoing trauma that Jack Hartigan suffered, and continues to suffer, from the two dogs’ attack. Five weeks later, on 3 July 2017, Mr Barr wrote back a single-page letter in which he asserted that he had considered issues the boy’s lawyers had raised but that he had not agreed to authorise an act of grace payment of $200,000 as requested. Mr Barr asserted that he had read the court’s judgment and noted that the court found the commissioner “was not liable for the dog involved in the attack and breached no duty of care to prevent the dog attack on the boy”.

If Mr Barr or his advisers had read the court’s judgment, they would have been well aware that it was two dogs that in fact attacked this young man, and that is a big difference. I quote from an article in the Canberra Times titled “Jack loses case over dog mauling”:

In shocking detail the boy described what happened.

One dog grabbed his head and the other grabbed his leg, he said.

“It was basically a tug-o-war between the dogs.

“And it really hurt, from all the pain of them stretching me. And then the one on my leg let go and went onto my face.”

The Canberra Times article continued:

He suffered horrific injuries and had to have 17 medical procedures, including one that involved grafting skin onto his head. He lost 13 teeth and the attack had caused him a lazy eye.

If the Chief Minister had read the judgment he would also have read evidence from neighbours of the tenant of the house this attack occurred in. The neighbours had been

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video