Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 August 2017) . . Page.. 2323 ..
Chief Minister—through you, Madam Chair—over the years you and I have faced similar situations where decisions had to be made but where, once you understood the specifics of the situation, you saw fit to turn around and correct the issue that you were asked to address. I am asking you in this instance also to show some courage and leadership in recognising the fact that this is an area where compassion is required. It is not a sign of weakness to show compassion in response to all the evidence we have before us about the injury to this child. I seek your support and your government’s support in reconsidering the actions that are warranted to assist this family and this child in a situation that was not of their making but has caused them extreme hardship. They are very much in need of your support.
I appeal to all of the Assembly, to Meegan Fitzharris—who is obviously aware of some of the issues that we are talking about—and to the rest of the cabinet to have a heart. We recognise that decisions can and must be made by the government. We respect that. But we also respect a government willing to recognise that there is more to the argument than they had perhaps been aware of—or perhaps their understanding of the way that ex gratia works. I appeal to Mr Barr to listen and do something about this.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (10.35): I move:
Omit all words after “notes”, first occurring, substitute:
“(a) that, in October 2010, a young boy was attacked by a dog while resident at an ACT Housing property, and sustained serious injuries as a result of the attack;
(b) that all Assembly Members express sympathy for the boy affected by this case, and his family, for the distressing events which led to, and followed from, his injuries;
(c) that, in May 2017, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory handed down a decision in Hartigan v Commissioner for Social Housing in the ACT, which found that, although the boy’s injuries were serious and extensive, the Commissioner for Social Housing was not liable for the dog involved in the attack and breached no duty of care to prevent the dog attack;
(d) while the Treasurer has a discretionary power to award Act of Grace payments upon application, assessment of these applications is undertaken against a clear and long-established framework which includes specific criteria for the granting of such a request; and
(e) that a request by the boy, through his lawyers, for a $200 000 Act of Grace compensation payment from the ACT Government has not been granted on the basis that it did not meet the criteria under this framework, specifically that the actions or inaction of the Government had not contributed to the injuries sustained; and
(2) further notes that: