Senate debates

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee; Reference

12:17 pm

Photo of Nick XenophonNick Xenophon (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you for the indulgence of making a second short statement. This motion deals with the issue quite differently from the way that other inquiries into this area have dealt with it. It deals fundamentally, first and foremost, with issues of law reform in relation to the destruction of documents that could be used in legal proceedings. It deals with issues of cabinet-in-confidence. It deals with the way that people have been dealt with in this matter in a way that has not been previously traversed. It is not about digging up old ground; it is about dealing with fresh matters and about fundamental law reform.

The issue here is that the victim at the centre of this was a 14-year-old girl who was raped in 1988 while at John Oxley Youth Detention Centre, and the perpetrators have never been charged. Yet this woman apparently received a payout from the Queensland government just last year. She has had a confidentiality clause attached to that payout and she has been gagged from speaking out. She needs to have her voice heard about this. This is about unfinished business that needs to be resolved. It is not about traversing old ground.

I would urge Senator Fielding to reconsider his position. I am sorry that the matter was only lodged yesterday, but it is something that my office has been working on for some time. I have had good discus­sions with Senator Fielding's office about this. If Senator Fielding is of a mind to have further discussions right now, I would move that this matter be postponed till later—if that can be done and if there are other matters to deal with—so that I can continue these discussions. But I would urge the Senate to consider this given that there are new matters. There is unfinished business and the victim deserves the right to be heard.


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