News and updates from The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry

About the Inquiry

On 24 March 2012, the Newman/LNP Government was elected to power with a majority unprecedented in Queensland’s political history. This change of government took place after some 22 years of almost continuous ALP Governments during which time the alleged Heiner Affair cover-up persisted. During the election campaign, the LNP, under the new leadership of Campbell Newman, made an election promise to review the Heiner Affair.On the afternoon of 3 April 2012, immediately following the Newman Ministry being sworn in by the Queensland Governor, the Hon Penny Wensley AC, Premier Newman informed the public that he intended to review the Heiner Affair. In that regard, the Newman Government is to be commended.On 4BC Radio, during an interview with presenter Greg Cary on 10 April 2012, new Attorney-General, the Hon Jarrod Bleijie, reaffirmed this commitment. He said that the Newman Government was prepared to look at “fresh” and “old” evidence pertaining to the Heiner Affair. It was not limited in any way. Then, on 29 June 2012, the Newman/LNP Queensland Government announced the establishment of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry (QCPCI), chaired by former Queensland Crime Commissioner, the Hon Tim Carmody SC. It was to report back to the Queensland Government by 30 April 2013.

News and Updates


Sex abuse allegations were raised in Heiner inquiry: witness

Date December 13, 2012 - 12:01AM

Tony Moore senior reporter

Suspicions that a sexual assault allegation was mentioned among shredded evidence from an inquiry two decades ago was given added weight yesterday during a child protection inquiry in Brisbane.

Former youth worker Irene Parfitt told the Carmody inquiry she "strongly believed" she told retired magistrate Noel Heiner, who investigated staff management at the John Oxley Youth Centre in 1989, of the alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl.

Supporters of the girl believe evidence of the alleged sexual assault in May 1988 was included in evidence gathered by Mr Heiner, which was subsequently shredded by the new Goss government in March 1990, citing defamation fears.

Ms Parfitt told yesterday's inquiry hearings that she gave her evidence to Mr Heiner at the Children's Court building in Brisbane.
At the time, she was employed as Irene Colmer and was acting as the centre's senior youth worker.
Ms Parfitt said she spoke of a single incident of a sexual assault at an interview with Noel Heiner sometime in late 1989.
"My knowledge of a young female (who'd) been subject to rape by some fellow residents," Ms Parfitt told the court.
Under questioning by counsel assisting the Carmody inquiry Michael Copley, Ms Parfitt said she firmly believed she raised the issue with Mr Heiner.

Mr Copley: "So you're positive that you – 100 per cent sure that you mentioned the (14-year-old girl's sex assault) incident to Mr Heiner?"

Ms Parfitt: "Yes."
Ms Parfitt told the hearing the issue was well known when she arrived at work the morning after the incident.
"The best that I can recall would have been that it was the talk of the centre," she said.

"There was probably five boys involved, one female, on and excursions with some education officers. I recall that she was kept a little secluded for a while."

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Shredding of documents in 'Heiner Affair' under fire in Carmody Inquiry into Child Protection

by:Michael Madigan

From:The Courier-Mail 

April 23, 2013 11:38AM
A QUARTER of a century-old decision by a Queensland Labor Cabinet to destroy documents alleged to have been linked to child abuse is under fire in the Carmody Inquiry into Child Protection.
Former Queensland Attorney General Dean Wells has taken the stand at the inquiry which resumed Tuesday morning, defending the decision by the newly appointed Goss Government in 1990 to shred documents related to the "Heiner Affair.''

The Heiner Affair is a long running theory that the government illegally destroyed documents which contained evidence of child abuse, primarily at the old John Oxley Youth Detention Centre.
Former Magistrate Noel Heiner headed an inquiry established in 1989 by the old National Party Government to examine industrial strife at the John Oxley.

Mr Wells said his memory of a 23-year-old event was not entirely clear.
"I have been raking my brains since you summonsed me to try and remember this stuff,'' he said.

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Naive cabinet shredded Heiner papers to 'protect employees from defamation'


The Australian 

April 23, 2013 1:05PM

A FORMER Queensland government minister has told an inquiry cabinet decided to shred internal documents because they were inexperienced and wanted to protect employees from defamation.
Then-Labor government Attorney-General Dean Wells told the Queensland Child Protection Inquiry the 1990 order to destroy documents from an investigation into a youth-detention centre was the Cabinet's baptism of fire as the first "damned if we do, damned if we don't" decision.
He is the third Cabinet minister to be summonsed to the inquiry - the first under newly expanded terms of reference - that is investigating the long-running Heiner Affair controversy.
Mr Wells said the executive was told there was no legal impediment to the shredding but said their decision may have been different if Cabinet had known more about the procedures and policies of government.

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Heiner Affair inquiry getting down to business

Piers Akerman

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 (12:06am)

It would seem that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is not the only Labor figure to reach for the “naïve” defence when the hard questions are asked. Yesterday, Dean Wells, a former Labor Attorney General in the Goss government, told the Queensland Child Protection Inquiry which is looking into the Heiner Affair that the Cabinet decided to shred internal documents because they were inexperienced and wanted to protect employees from defamation. He said the 1990 order to destroy documents from an investigation into a youth-detention centre was the Cabinet’s baptism of fire as the first “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” decision.

He is the third Cabinet minister to be summonsed to the inquiry - the first under newly expanded terms of reference - that is investigating the long-running Heiner Affair disgrace.

“We had been out of office for 32 years,” Wells said.m“We did not know what was normal and within the area of the Cabinet’s concern. “What we did know that a minister had a problem that an inquiry that had been established by her predecessor had been pulled up.”

The Heiner Affair centres on the destruction of documents from retired magistrate Noel Heiner’s investigation into allegations of mismanagement at the John Oxley Youth Centre. It later emerged a girl, 14, was raped at the centre in 1988 and claims grew of a coverup of sexual abuse allegations.
The girl, now a woman, at the heart of this matter, still wants justice.

She was awarded approximately $140,000 in a hush-hush ex gratia payment or possibly compensation in June, 2010, by the Bligh Labor government.

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Labor Party Cabinet insider Stuart Tait accused over 'Heiner Affair'

THE man who sat next to former Queensland Premier Wayne Goss during Cabinet meetings has been accused of orchestrating advice that ultimately led to the controversial destruction of documents known as the "Heiner Affair".
In a torrid morning of questioning, counsel assisting the Queensland Child Protection inquiry Michael Copley, SC, accused the then-Cabinet Secretary Stuart Tait of deliberately withholding information from the archivist in 1990.
Mr Tait repeatedly rejected the assertion.
The 23-year-old controversy centres on the destruction of evidence compiled by retired magistrate Noel Heiner from a short-lived 1988-1989 internal investigation into alleged mismanagement at the southeast Queensland John Oxley Youth Centre.
The destruction of documents came amid a belief potential defamation action could be pending.
Mr Copley suggested Mr Tait knew Cabinet would decide to destroy the documents and omitted key information from a letter seeking approval for shredding from the archivist.

"I suggest to you that you deliberately didn't put into the letter to the state archivist the fact that a solicitor was seeking the documents," Mr Copley said.

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Heiner documents destroyed for 'greater good', ex-minister says

February 18, 2013 - 2:21PM

Tony Moore senior reporter

Evidence gathered during the Heiner Inquiry was destroyed for the "greater good", former families minister Anne Warner told the Carmody Inquiry in Brisbane.
Her answer came after Michael Copley, counsel assisting Mr Carmody's inquiry, asked why Cabinet made the decision on March 5, 1990 to destroy the documents.
"In the end Cabinet decided that the best interests of the vast majority were better served by destroying the documents rather than keeping them," Mr Copley summarised after a complex morning of hearings.
"If someone's ability to access the documents, whether simply for curiosity purposes or for bringing legal action later was inhibited, or destroyed by the decision to destroy the documents.
"We'll, that was unfortunate, but the decision that we have made was made, was made we believe for the interests of the vast majority."
Ms Warner replied: "Yes. For the greater good."
Mr Warner believed the decision was not necessarily against the rights of the former manager of the John Oxley Youth Centre, Peter Coyne.
Solicitors for Mr Coyne had written to the state government in February 1990 advising they wanted to view the documents and saying they were strongly considering legal action.
"His immediate rights were being stopped," Ms Warner said.

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Cabinet was warned on shredding of Heiner evidence February 14, 2013 - 5:05PM

Tony Moore senior reporter

Each of three submissions to cabinet in early 1990 about the possible shredding of evidence gathered during a state government inquiry in 1989 warned cabinet ministers that solicitors wanted to review the evidence, an inquiry has been told.
Ruth Matchett, who became the director-general of the Families Department in December 1989, was closely questioned on Thursday on the shredding in March 1990 of the Heiner documents.
During her evidence, Ms Matchett said she regarded the recommendation to destroy the documents as "unusual" and "controversial".
Commissioner Tim Carmody is reviewing the decision as part of his broader inquiry into actions at Queensland's youth detention centres.
"It was appropriate to draw it to cabinet's attention," counsel assisting the Carmody inquiry Michael Copley said on Thursday.
"And then if cabinet wants to destroy things that solicitors are actively seeking then that is cabinet's problem, isn't it?" Mr Copley asked Ms Matchett.
Ms Matchett said the timing of one cabinet submission in mid-February 1990 was "unfortunate".

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 'I'm not protecting anyone', says Heiner figure

February 12, 2013 - 12:01AM

Tony senior reporter

A senior public servant has denied he was covering for anyone as a Queensland inquiry probes reasons why evidence from a government inquiry 23 years ago was shredded, despite solicitors wanting access to them.
Kenneth Littleboy on Monday conceded that when he drafted a letter to the Queensland State Archives in February 1990 requesting approval for destruction of the Heiner documents, he did not inform them solicitors wanted to review evidence gathered during an inquiry.
That short-lived inquiry - into management issues at the John Oxley Youth Centre - was run by retired magistrate Noel Heiner in 1989.
The solicitors were acting for the then manager of the centre, Peter Coyne.
Mr Littleboy said information about solicitors wanting to view the evidence in the letter he wrote to the State Archivist would have most likely have been removed "on advice" from a senior officer.
"I am not protecting anyone," Mr Littleboy told the Carmody Inquiry on Monday afternoon.
"I have no recollection of it."

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All the strife is coming to a head … and it’s Gillard’s

Piers Akerman Sunday, February, 03, 2013, (12:15am)

Then there’s the extraordinary evidence also being produced at Queensland’s Child Protection inquiry, which is now getting into the heart of the long-running Heiner Affair, the broad term used to cover the destruction of documents relating to the abuse of juveniles in state care.
In hearings on January 25, a file note on the Heiner investigation was produced which indicated officials of Queensland’s Goss Labor government may have illegally been given access to Cabinet documents of its predecessor, the Liberal National Party government of Russell Cooper.
The note attached to an October 23, 1989, extract of Cooper Cabinet Collective Minutes tendered to the inquiry shows it was produced for the Goss government on January 1, 1990, with the handwritten warning: “Note that this document is an extract of the records of the previous government and may not” - underlined - “be shown to a member of the present government except by approval of (Cooper).”
The maximum penalty for unlawfully obtaining or disclosing the contents of such a document is two years’ imprisonment.
When I called the former premier on Friday and asked him whether he had ever given anyone from the Goss government authority to access those papers he said: “This is interesting”.
“I have no recollection of it. I would be surprised if I did. If anyone has any proof that I have such an approval they should show it.”

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Probe told of legal bid for shredded papers from Heiner Affair

The man who oversaw the shredding of documents central to the Heiner Affair knew they were being sought by lawyers, an inquiry has been told.
Trevor Walsh, a senior executive officer to the then-director-general of the Families Department, Ruth Matchett, has told the Carmody Inquiry into Child Protection the documents were destroyed in the old Families Department building in March 1990.
Mr Walsh said that the documents had to be picked up from the office of Cabinet and transported to the office for shredding.
He also said the office of State Archivist may have intended performing the shredding but didn't have a shredder.
The documents and tapes were collected during the Heiner Inquiry, created by the National Party government in 1989 after allegations of mismanagement at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre.

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Ex-police commissioner questions document shredding relating to Heiner Affair

A FORMER Queensland police commissioner has questioned the legality of the shredding of documents at the centre of the Heiner Affair while making scathing comments on the professionalism of police investigating an alleged rape.
Noel Newnham, appointed commissioner after the Fitzgerald Inquiry in 1989 now retired, has made the comments this morning while on the stand at the Carmody Inquiry into child protection.
The alleged rape of the 14-year-old girl is at the centre of the Heiner Affair - a quarter-century old controversy alleging high level cover-up of sexual abuse at the old John Oxley Youth Detention Centre.
Mr Newnham said he believed the 14-year-old John Oxley resident was pressured into having sex with two teenage male residents during an outing to the Mount Barney National Park in 1988.
Under cross examination from John Selfridge, for the State of Queensland, Mr Newnham said he believed the girl was "subjected" to sexual intercourse.
"What do you mean by subjected?' asked Mr Selfridge.
"I have tried to avoid the emotive expression of rape,' Mr Newnham said.
"Because, on the file, it appears there was sexual intercourse between her and two of those boys at a time when she was under pressure."
Mr Selfridge asked if he met psychological pressure.
"Something like that, yes."
Mr Newnham said the girl was medically examined some days after the incident and the doctor reported that, "superficially,' she did not appear perturbed by the incident.
But he said the police had a duty to investigate thoroughly yet failed to do so.

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Inquiry a waste, says alleged sex assault victim

December 15, 2012 - 1:10PM

Tony Moore senior reporter

 The woman at the centre of a 24-year-old controversy over sex assault allegations at a Brisbane youth detention centre says she is sick of being a "political football" and wants her life back.
The woman says one portion of a two-part $9 million child protection inquiry investigating past care in government-run centres is a waste of taxpayers' money.
For the past fortnight, the woman – allegedly assaulted as a 14-year-old during a John Oxley Youth Centre excursion to Mount Barney on May 24, 1988 – has been a constant figure at Brisbane's new Magistrates Court building, the site of the Queensland government inquiry .
This week her voice repeatedly broke as she retold parts of her story.
"What possibly can they do to make me happy. The only person who can help me is the Lord," she said.
She agreed she had received a $120,000 confidential state government payment, but said the money meant nothing to her.

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Kevin Lindeberg, Whistleblower

Kevin Lindeberg whistle blower in the Heiner AffairIt was a very dramatic day at the Carmody Inquiry on Thursday, 13 December 2012. It followed a dramatic "crossing-the-Rubicon" day of evidence on 12 December 2012.
Thursday was to establish that another witness at the Heiner Inquiry (Youth Worker Michael Roch - an English gentleman and commercial pilot-cum-youth worker with an evident strong sense of probity and decency [as might be seen by the transcipt of evidence]) was asked about the Harding Incident.
To see how it played out, the transcript should be read. It was the stuff of Hollywood, but, this is the real world with enormously serious consequences.

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Queensland police did not follow up on John Oxley Youth Centre rape allegation

POLICE did not continue to investigate allegations of the rape of a girl at a state-run institution 24 years ago after the 14-year-old withdrew her complaint.
Detective-Sergeant Janelle Podlich, who has since left the Queensland police, said the teenager at the centre of the events signed a statement saying she did not wish to make an official complaint to police about the incident at the John Oxley Youth Centre.
The girl had alleged two teenaged boys, also from the centre, raped her during an excursion to Mount Barney on May 24, 1988. Police were called to the centre four days later by management.
"We went out to take a statement from (the girl)," Ms Podlich told Queensland's Child Protection Inquiry today.
"Because she did not make a complaint to us no further action was taken."
The incident is often cited within the "Heiner Affair", a long-running claim of a cover-up that has dogged successive Queensland and federal Labor governments.

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Girl changed assault story after threats, documents show

December 8, 2012 - 12:01AM

Tony Moore senior reporter

A 14-year-old girl at the John Oxley Youth Centre changed her story about being sexually assaulted in 1988 in part because she was threatened by other centre residents, documents tendered as court exhibits for the first time show.
The documents, showing senior public servants and the then-Family Services Minister Craig Sherrin were told of the incident in 1988, were tendered as exhibits at the Carmody Inquiry on Friday.

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The Brisbane Times

Abuse 'swept under the carpet' for years

December 6, 2012 - 12:01AM

Tony Moore senior reporter

Sexual abuse at the John Oxley Youth Centre was "swept under the carpet" for years, a former employee has told the Carmody Inquiry into child protection.
Daniel Lannen, who worked at the Wacol centre from 1987 to 1999, also told the hearing he had concerns about children as young as 11 being handcuffed, medicated and victimised.
He said he was very upset by the "standard practice" of handcuffing children to fences and with their "hands over their heads".
Mr Lannen said, in some instances 20 years ago, children were being handcuffed to tennis court fences overnight at the centre.
He said then-centre manager Peter Coyne held secret files on staff members. Mr Coyne is yet to give evidence.
Mr Lannen's police statement was yesterday read out by lawyer Michael Bosscher, who is acting for whistleblower Kevin Lindberg at the hearing.

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Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates

Detention centre rape, cuffing ignored

A FORMER John Oxley Youth Detention Centre worker was concerned an alleged rape of a teenager had been "swept under the carpet", an inquiry has been told.
Daniel Francis Lannen - a former youth worker at the centre - also raised concerns about staff inappropriately using handcuffs at the centre during the 1980s, including once cuffing an 11-year-old with "hands over the head".
Mr Lannen also told the inquiry medication had been used to control the behaviour of at least one young inmate.
He told the Carmody Inquiry into Child Protection that none of his concerns about these matters was addressed.
Mr Lannen met in 1989 with Barbara Flynn, a former nun who worked with magistrate Noel Heiner in collecting evidence from John Oxley workers as part of an inquiry into mismanagement at the centre in Wacol, west of Brisbane.

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Heiner at risk from legal games 

Piers Akerman Tuesday, December, 04, 2012, (7:46am)

  THE LID is slowly being lifted on the infamous child abuse file shredding Heiner Affair. Without being too optimistic, there is the possibility that those seeking justice may finally be heard though the process will be exhaustive. Yesterday, the Newman government’s inquiry was told that lawyers advised Queensland’sGoss Labor government to destroy secret evidence into allegations of mismanagement at the John Oxley youth detention facility amid legal during a flurry of union legal threats 23 years ago. The Child Protection Inquiry was told confusion reigned about the legal standing and immunity for witnesses to former magistrate Noel Heiner’s inquiry after it was created in late November 1989. At the heart of the long-running controversy is the decision taken by the Goss Labor government in March 1990 to shred material including staff interviews and tapes from the ill-fated Heiner investigation into allegations of abuse and bullying when it was known that some of the documents were needed as evidence.

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Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates


Goss government warned about Heiner documents

December 4, 2012 - 12:02AM Tony Moore

The Goss government was warned that information gathered under the Heiner Inquiry would be publicly available before the documents were controversially shredded, it was revealed yesterday. Queensland's $9 million Child Protection inquiry was told a February 19, 1990 letter to the state cabinet secretary warned the information was public and could be accessed under a third party inquiry. That followed then-Crown solicitor Ken O'Shea's advice three weeks earlier, on January 23, that Magistrate Noel Heiner was lawfully appointed under section 12 of the Public Service Management and Appointment Act. However, Mr O'Shea's advice in a memo to then-Families Department director-general Ruth Matchett was that any report from Mr Heiner was "unlikely to satisfy any of the parties effected by the inquiry". "It would seem that the whole matter has gone astray from it's inception," Mr O'Shea's advice said.

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Extract from Bravehearts Submission to Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry

5th November 2012

Heiner Affair

What remains an inescapable fact is that in 1989 the Heiner Inquiry was established to investigate serious allegations of harm at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre. The Inquiry was established because the government at the time recognised that the allegations were of such seriousness that an Inquiry was required to investigate the full facts surrounding the incidents.Subsequently, in 1990, under the Goss Government the information and intelligence previously gathered was destrodyed in controversial circumstances. It is Bravehearts view that the initial concerns upon which the Inquiry was established remain unanswered and we believe this issue remains a major concern. Bravehearts holds the view that this matter must be re-investigated thoroughly to address any and all questions in relation to the original Inquiry’s terms of reference.

RECOMMENDATION 35: Bravehearts advocates for a full, thorough and independent review of the Heiner Affair.

The Brisbane Times

Rudd, Goss could face inquiry

November 1, 2012 - 5:58PM

Tony Moore senior reporter

Several high-profile witnesses, including former prime minister Kevin Rudd and former premier Wayne Goss, could be called to give evidence the Child Protection Commission of Inquiry next month as it re-investigates the Heiner affair. The Heiner affair refers to the shredding of documents in 1990 that were gathered during the 1989 inquiry by Magistrate Noel Heiner into allegations of sexual assaults at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre in 1988. One section of the terms of reference of Queensland's Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, headed by former Queensland Crime Commissioner Tim Carmody, allows for these issues to be re-investigated. Michael Copely, counsel assisting the inquiry, this morning told the inquiry he expected to call around 120 witnesses to re-examine the Heiner allegations for 10 days from December 3. The witness list includes about 30 former ministers and senior public servants with knowledge of former magistrate Noel Heiner's inquiry. Among those named were Mr Goss and Mr Rudd, who was the then-premier's chief of staff during the Goss Labor government.

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Child protection inquiry's examination of 'Heiner Affair' likely to call Kevin Rudd, Wayne Goss as witnesses

by: Michael Madigan From: The Courier-Mail November 01, 2012 12:19PM

FORMER Prime Minister Kevin Rudd may join old colleagues from the Goss Government on the witness stand over the summer break as one of Queensland's most enduring conspiracy theories - the "Heiner Affair" - gets another examination. The $9 million child protection inquiry announced this morning that it will spend much of December and January examining allegations of abuse in state-run youth institutions stemming back nearly one quarter of a century. With more than 100 witnesses listed to appear it is expected Mr Rudd, who was a senior public servant in the Government of Labor Premier Wayne Goss, will be called to give evidence, along with Mr Goss himself. The Heiner affair refers to the 1990 shredding of evidence into 1988 child sex abuse allegations at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre at Wacol.

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Heiner Affair News Articles

Print Media News news articles and reports >>>>>

Additional Heiner Affair Coverage

17/02/2011 Kevin Lindeberg Statement of Concern suggests fraud

22/06/2010 Statement of Concern II calls on Premier Bligh for inquiry into Heiner Affair.

22/06/2010 ASA and RMAA joint media release

Queensland Parliamentry Crime and Misconduct Committee

Other heiner affair commentary.


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ABC Radio Richard Fidler Conversation Hour 17/03/2009
Brisbane radio 4BC 20/03/2009
Alan Jones radio interview with Piers Akerman.
Alan Jones radio interview with Peter Beattie
Alan Jones radio interview with former QLD union official Kevin Lindeberg

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