HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Thursday, 7 August 2014
Ms SANDERSON (Adelaide) (14:55):
The Minister for Health says that he would never play cheap politics—never, ever. It is the
most ridiculous thing I have ever heard come out of his mouth. It was only last night that the
Premier, Jay Weatherill, was on the news stating that he would not—
Member for Adelaide, it would be good if you just referred to members by their title and not
by their surname.
Certainly. On last night's news the Premier stated that he would not, under any
circumstances, support the Liberal's bill for a commissioner for children and he would have
none in preference to having either his own or no commissioner, after 11 years of needing a
commissioner for children. That is cheap politics.
Member for Adelaide, you are anticipating debate on a matter. Could I return you to the noconfidence motion.
Today I stand with the leader to move a motion of no confidence in the Minister for
Education and Child Development. For the last fortnight this state has endured the most
unimaginable news, which has escalated every day with further reports of children being put
at risk, staff being overworked, communication breakdowns between department and
governmental staff, and a litany of systemic failures. The minister is ultimately responsible
for these failures and the minister must resign.
The Liberal Party is proclaiming here in this place today the pressing need for a change in
culture, a change in priorities, and a change in outcomes in all areas of child protection. We
are standing here today on behalf of the South Australians who are bombarding every office
of their elected members saying, 'Enough is enough.' We are the voice for the children who
have no voice. This minister must resign.
Every day parents and grandparents, teachers and doctors, police and overworked Families
SA staff are calling for answers. I cannot understate the urgency of this matter. The
government must demonstrate that our most vulnerable children are in safe care, and this
must be a priority. Unfortunately, the minister has been unable to convey to the public that
she can confidently say that our children are safe. Under the minister's jurisdiction the state
has had to bear a catalogue of incidents that defy understanding and still the minister
predicts there is more to come.
The only way to send a message of change is to change the system, and that must start at
the top. If the minister will not resign, the Premier must take the lead and sack the minister. I
call on the house to pass this motion out of respect for all children in state care. We have
ultimate responsibility for these children and we owe them the protection they deserve when
they are placed in state care.
Child protection is a serious issue and children need a government that takes this matter
seriously. Premier Weatherill's government has commissioned a series of reports into child
abuse over many years, and the Liberal Party respects and acknowledges the
recommendations from each and every one of them. But from every review must come
Labor has failed to deliver time and time again. We welcome the announcement of a royal
commission that will have broad and far-reaching access to systemic problems. However,
the families and children affected will have to wait for years before they learn why this
tragedy happened to them.
The minister has had almost five years to make changes to this department. Either the
minister has tried and failed or has not tried at all. Either way we no longer have faith that
this minister can do what is required to keep our children safe. For many of the
approximately 2,500 children under the guardianship of the Minister, the minister is their
family. It is the minister's responsibility to keep them safe and you have failed.
Drastic changes must be made and they need to be made now. We cannot let another child
be harmed due to this government's inability to manage this department. It pains me greatly
to say it but this minister has had enough time and has failed. It is time to bring in a new
minister. The minister must resign.