Palaszczuk fudges answers on critical child safety review

Friday, 30 September 2016

• Annastacia Palaszczuk clueless asked how much money has been allocated to child safety review
• Labor claims child safety a priority but slashes child safety service centre budgets by over $7.2 million statewide
• Queensland children deserve better than a clueless Premier and incompetent Minister

Annastacia Palaszczuk was today unable to answer key questions about a vital review into her government’s management of child safety in Queensland.

Shadow Child Safety Minister Ros Bates said she was astounded to hear the Premier of Queensland incapable of answering questions posed to her on 612 ABC Brisbane* this morning about life and death issues for Queensland children.

“When asked the simple question of how much money she had allocated to the Family and Child Commissioner to conduct a review into the Child Safety Department, she couldn’t answer, despite the death of five children in care in the past year.

“I can tell Ms Palaszczuk that the 2016/17 Queensland Family and Child Commissioner’s budget is $12.238 million, but we still don’t know how much the Premier has allocated to this important review.

“If the Premier is going to take over the job of her incompetent Child Safety Minister, I suggest she avails herself of fundamental information such as how much she’s committed to this review – and then share that information with Queenslanders.”

Ms Bates said what the Premier wasn’t prepared to divulge on live radio was that, despite claiming to be so focused on protecting vulnerable Queensland children, she had at the same time cut over $7.2 million from frontline child safety centres around the State.

“The 2015/16 budget for Child Safety Centres around Queensland was $144,819,319 but has been cut to $137,523,111 for 2016/17,” Ms Bates said.

“Staff at these centres play the most fundamental and important role in the Child Safety Department’s efforts to protect our kids, and they are crying out for more resources to avoid terrible tragedies that have befallen Tialeigh Palmer and Mason Lee.

“So why on earth Annastacia Palaszczuk would cut their funding I do not know.”

Ms Bates said she remained very concerned about the Child Commissioner’s access to important information to conduct her review.

“On ABC this morning, the Premier said the Commission and panel would leave no stone unturned, yet the Principal Commissioner admitted in Parliamentary Estimates hearings she had not seen the most recent child safety data that had been withheld since March,” she said.

She also stated she had not provided any advice since coming to the role 8 months prior on the performance data reporting of the child safety department.

* Annastacia Palaszczuk on 612 ABC Brisbane “Morning’s” Steve Austin.

SA: After the appalling death of Tialeigh Palmer, you announced an external, expert panel has been appointed to help develop and implement improvements of the the assessment and approval of foster carers and the operation of the blue card system, what resources have you put towards this advisory panel?

AP: OK Steve that’s a very important question and one that I want to share with your listeners. The Expert Panel was set up following some issues that were raised around the lack, I believe, of information sharing across departments and where we can do better, we must do better. So the Child and Family Commissioner Cheryl Vardon is independent. She reports to me and if I direct her to do anything, it has to be, ah, she has to put that in writing at the end of the year.

SA: Sure, you set this up, what resources, how much money have you given them to do what you’re asking them to do?

AP: Cheryl Vardon, ah, has a budget…and she can work within… I don’t know exactly what the budget is…

SA: What’s the budget?

AP: I’ll find that out for you. But she has a budget that’s set up, she has a team working around her, we have this expert panel but if they need extra money I will give them that money to undertake this job, because this job is very important.

SA: I’d be very keen to find out how much money they’ve got to do the task you asked them to do because it’s a very involved task.

AP: It is very involved and I want no stone left unturned.

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