This speech was delivered on 21/11/2013 in the NSW Upper House. You an read the full debate online here.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE [11.23 a.m.]: I move:
- That standing and sessional orders be suspended to allow a motion to be moved forthwith that Private Members’ Business item No. 1561 outside the Order of Precedence relating to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice be called on forthwith.
This motion calls for the establishment of an inquiry of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice into the Bowraville murders on the mid North Coast of New South Wales. It is urgent because the community in Bowraville have been waiting 23 years to have their voices heard. I acknowledge members of the Bowraville community in the gallery today. Twenty-three years ago, within a few short months, three children in Bowraville—Colleen Walker-Craig, Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux—were lost from their families. Since that time that community has been asking questions about how it was that the murderer of their children has not been brought to justice. There has been extensive police work, many applications and appeals, and the matter has been before the Attorney General on repeated occasions. It is not appropriate for any parliamentary committee to carry out its own murder investigation.
The Standing Committee on Law and Justice does not have the resources and it is not established to carry out a murder investigation. The committee is not established to second-guess the views of the Attorney General or to form its own views about whether the Attorney General made the right call or not in not referring the matter to the Court of Appeal for a further application under the double jeopardy laws. We are elected representatives of all communities across this State, whether in the mid North Coast, the inner city of Sydney or Eden, and when a community has been waiting 23 years to get some justice and has been hurting for 23 years after the loss of three of their children, I believe we have an obligation as a Parliament to hear their voices, to hear from the community and to hear what it means to be living in a small regional community that has suffered such an intense loss and, for whatever reason, has not seen justice delivered.
I know this motion will not go to a final vote today, but I understand that there is majority support in the House to establish an inquiry and to hear from the families. I appreciate the goodwill that the Government is showing in agreeing to look closely at the committee’s terms of reference over the next few days to see if we can have a genuine, non-partisan, above-politics response to the Bowraville community. I would very much like to see the inquiry established today, but I would rather we move, either later today or on Tuesday next week, as one voice and say to the people of Bowraville that we will hear from them. I commend the motion to the House.