This speech was delivered on 20 August 2013 in the NSW Upper House. You can read the full debate online here.

CATHOLIC CHURCH AND CHILD SEXUAL AB– USE

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. In an answer to a question without notice on 30 April 2013 regarding the placement of a serving New South Wales police officer on the Catholic Church’s New South Wales Professional Standards Resource Group, the Minister told the House that the NSW Police Force had advised him that the NSW Ombudsman had “supported” the police officer’s participation on the committee and was, “satisfied that appropriate processes were in place to manage the risk” of a conflict of interest. Given the Ombudsman has no record of such advice, will the Minister table all documents that he has that support his statement to the House?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I thank the member for his question. On 20 August 2013 I received a letter from the NSW Ombudsman regarding this matter. The Ombudsman advised that the consideration of any potential conflict of interest occurred when the serving officer began a secondment with his office in 1999. I understand that his office contacted the officer’s direct supervisor, who confirmed that the matter was discussed and a decision made for the officer to continue her involvement in the Professional Standards Resource Group. The Ombudsman’s Office has in place clear, strong policies around the identification, declaration and management of real, perceived and potential conflicts of interest, and I am advised that the officer was well aware of those. The Ombudsman’s letter recognises the skill, experience, expertise and professionalism of the officer involved, something that Mr David Shoebridge has never done, and advises that he has no doubt that any existing or potential conflict of interest, should it have arisen, would have been raised by the officer during the time with the office. The Ombudsman has also advised that there is no record of any consideration of the officer’s involvement in the group before commencing with his office in 1999, nor is there any record of any consideration by his office of a potential conflict of interest at any later stage. I will leave it at that.

Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer and enlighten the public by tabling the correspondence that he received from the Ombudsman that he referred to in his answer?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I suggest the member go back to some of the journalists he has been speaking to over the past couple of months who have in fact received correspondence from the Ombudsman detailing these facts. Perhaps he might go back to some of the journalists he has been working with on some of these stories and ask them to have a look at the correspondence they have been given. Had the member done so in the first place, he might not have been so foolish as to accuse people of misleading the Parliament, for he would have known that they, too, had received documentation much earlier on from the Ombudsman clearly spelling out the facts. The member does not want the truth to get in the way of a news clip. He will do absolutely anything to get his name in the Sydney Morning Herald or his face on the ABC. Let us not talk about Graham Richardson and Whatever it Takes; Mr Shoebridge wrote the book before Graham even thought about it. He is playing it out every time he gets into this place because he knows that parliamentary privilege gives him the opportunity to accuse absolutely everyone of absolutely everything.