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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 31


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (13:58): Every truth revealed by the royal commission into child abuse is sickening: thousands of crimes; the number of offenders and institutions involved; the average age of the victims—11-year-old boys and 10-year-old girls; and the scale of the deliberate systemic cover-up. It is a shameful betrayal of children they had in their care; a betrayal of the faith that they claimed to serve. It is past time for Cardinal Pell to return to Australia and to account to the commission in person. I want to pay tribute to Julia Gillard for her leadership in establishing this royal commission, and above all I want to salute the survivors who have testified. They are remarkable Australians summoning the courage to tell their stories, some of them for the first time and others carrying the memory of being deliberately ignored or flat-out accused of making up the stories; confronting and reliving the darkest chapters in their lives; speaking up on behalf of all those who could not. By their actions, these survivors have rescued a future generation of children from the abuse and suffering that they have known. These extraordinary people deserve more than the parliament's praise; they deserve a national redress scheme, and that depends on leadership from the Commonwealth government and the parliament. At long last, justice must be done.

The SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 43, the time for members' statements has concluded.