Child commissioner Tim Carmody refuses to stand aside
by: Rosanne Barrett
From: The Australian
July 24, 2012 4:32PM
TIM Carmody will continue to head Queensland's new inquiry into child protection after today rejecting accusations of his own apprehended bias.
The former Queensland Crime Commissioner has been asked to disqualify himself from a key part of the inquiry, which is examining historical child sexual abuse at a youth detention facility and the government's response.
The inquiry will examine the 22-year-old “Heiner affair”, also known as Shreddergate, which centres on the destruction of documents from a 1988 inquiry investigating maladministration at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre. Some claim there was a government cover-up of sexual abuse at the centre, highlighting allegations of the rape of a girl, 14, in 1988.
Mr Carmody has been criticised for not investigating the matter when he was head of the Queensland Crime Commission (QCC) between 1997 and 2001.During a preliminary hearing today, two applications were made for Mr Carmody to stand down when the inquiry investigates the Heiner affair.
Mr Carmody refused the application, brought by whistleblower former union official Kevin Lindeberg and former journalist Bruce Grundy, saying he was satisfied he would not have to investigate the actions of the QCC and there was therefore no conflict.
“Recusal is not a step to be taken lightly,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Carmody told the hearing that some previous inquiry commissioners were too quick to remove themselves.
“All you had to do once was use the word bias and everyone threw up their hands and ran away,” he said.
“If you did that enough you end up with the judge you want. It's more a process of exclusion.
“We've got a duty to sit if it's appropriate rather than be too quick to disqualify ourselves because obviously the state has got an investment.”
Mr Lindeberg and Mr Grundy have relentlessly pursued the Heiner affair for more than a decade.
On its opening day last week the inquiry heard Mr Carmody referred allegations to the new Crime and Misconduct Commission in his last two weeks as head of the now defunct crime commission.
Lawyer for Mr Lindeberg, Michael Bosscher, said the QCC's actions should be reviewed under the order to examine the “government” actions.
“You could not adequately address the role of government in the Heiner affair without by simple necessity then travelling into all the other areas as you proceed down that path,” he said.
“All have vast repercussions in every respect in terms of the conduct of the government.”
Mr Grundy said the crime commission should be considered part of the government and should be investigated for its response to allegations of sexual abuse.
“You are not in a position in my estimation to consider your response; someone else should consider your response if we are to have faith in the inquiry,” Mr Grundy said.
The inquiry has a broad-ranging responsibility to develop a more efficient and effective child-safety system for the Queensland Newman government.
It will report back next year.