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Labor runs out of different answers

Nov 15, 2012

Isobel Redmond MP

Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for the Arts, Multicultural Affairs and Road Safety


Labor runs out of different answers

Having spent three weeks dodging Opposition questions about the bungled handling of at least two child sex offence cases in Government Schools, Premier Weatherill and Minister Portolesi chose today to hide behind the Debelle inquiry instead of providing answers demanded by concerned South Australian families.
 
“Despite repeatedly acknowledging the ‘importance’ and ‘seriousness’ of the issue, the Weatherill Labor Government has failed to adequately answer the questions asked of it in relation to these horrific matters,” Liberal Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said.
 
“South Australians deserve to know what part Premier Weatherill and Minister Portolesi have played in the mishandling of these child sex cases.
 
“The fact that it requires the commissioning of an inquiry to determine what Labor Government Ministers know about their own portfolio speaks volumes about this government’s inability to manage this crisis.”
 
Parliament descended into farce yesterday as Minister Portolesi declared that the mother of an 11 year old rape victim was meeting with Education Department officers “as we speak”.
 
The mother, in fact, was seated in the public gallery awaiting answers to questions denied her for the better part of two years.
 
Previously Minister Portolesi said parents at a Western Suburbs school were not told of the rape of an 8 year old by an after school hours director “on the advice of SAPOL”.
 
On the contrary, SAPOL’s advice recommended the parents be told.
 
Premier Weatherill’s answers have been riddled with similar contradiction.

On 1 November the Premier said in response to questions about whether the Education Minister would be notified of the rape of a child in a government school:

“all critical incidents are always notified to the Minister”.
 
Later that day he also said:

“There is no indication that this matter was referred to me or my office…Neither I nor my office has any recollection of the matter being raised.”

The next day he said:

“It beggars belief that I wasn’t told about this”.

A few hours later that day, following the release of an email advising his office of the rape, he said:

“I was not told about this email until today”.

And finally, the Premier said:

“My recollection is that I was not advised of this incident personally”.

“It has become abundantly clear that the Weatherill Labor Government has run out of different answers,” Ms Redmond said.

“Today in question time Premier Weatherill and Minister Portolesi officially hoisted the white flag by refusing to answer questions beyond saying they are matters that will be investigated by the Debelle inquiry.

“As the Government lurches between blaming the department and blaming  the school’s governing council, answering questions incorrectly and then not answering them at all, the parents of affected children are left wondering what the truth is and how they can trust this government.”

The Liberal Opposition has asked 49 questions on the schools child sex offence crisis and received satisfactory answers to none of them.

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