Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates

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.

"There are witnesses who worked for the state of Queensland and who have yet to be approached in connection with providing statements in relation to their involvement in the establishment of the inquiry by Mr Noel Heiner, the conduct of the inquiry by Mr Heiner and the decision to terminate the inquiry conducted by Mr Heiner," Mr Copely said.

Mr Copely said 94 staff members and police officers had already been contacted and would be summonsed to appear over the 10 days of hearings from December 3.

"At the present time it would appear that there may be approximately 94 persons who were employed or associated with the John Oxley Youth Centre in late 1989, early 1990," he said.

"And the officers from the Queensland Police who have been seconded to the inquiry have at my request been involved for some months now in the process of locating those people, interviewing them and obtaining statements from them."

Mr Copely said every person identified by the inquiry would be summonsed to appear to give evidence.

"If they decline to provide a statement, which of course is their right, they will still receive a summons to attend and give evidence," Mr Copely said.

"So there is potentially about 90 witnesses in that category. Some of them will be very short, I anticipate, some of them might be longer."

There will be two weeks of hearings from December 3 and a further two weeks of hearings from January 22 next year.

The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry must report to Premier Campbell Newman by April 20, 2013.

It is recommending changes to Queensland's existing child protection system.

Part of its terms of reference allows it to investigate the response by government to allegations of "historic child sexual abuse" in youth detention centres.

A solicitor, representing two women – one of whom was raped as a 14-year-old on an excursion from the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre in 1988 – is among the witnesses.


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