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Inquiry into child abuse at Woomera Detention Centre.

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Inquiry Into Child Abuse At Woomera Detention Centre Duncan Kerr - Acting Shadow Minister for Immigration

Media Statement - 22 November 2000

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"Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock's career is in the balance as a result of disclosures he made today," Acting Shadow Minister for Immigration, Duncan Kerr, said.

"In a statement made earlier today, Mr Ruddock has admitted that he wrongly assured the Australian public that there was no substance in allegations of child abuse at the Woomera Detention Centre.

"The Minister has misled the Australian public.

"Whilst the Opposition makes no claim that this misleading was other than inadvertent, the outcome is that the public has been misled and the Minister must take direct responsibility for his repeated personal assurance to the contrary.

"The Opposition's repeated calls for an inquiry following reported allegations by medical staff at the detention centre have now proved fully justified.

"The announcement by the Minister today of an inquiry into these allegations is the least the Minister could have done.

"Meanwhile, the Minister must immediately and personally ensure the that all detainees, especially children and women are safe from any threat of harm.

The Opposition has twice called on the Minister to conduct an inquiry into the allegations and to ensure the safety of detainees at risk.

"The Opposition welcomes the inquiry by Mr Philip Flood, but the inquiry must be given terms of reference that allow it to investigate and report to the Minister on the contractual arrangements between the Government and the private provider of correctional services, Australasian Correctional Services (ACM).

"The Minister is ultimately responsible for the proper discharge of the public responsibility towards the welfare and safeguarding of the basic rights of detainees.

"The privatisation of detention centres was done by Mr Ruddock. Allegations of cover-ups and inadequate procedures to deal with issues such as the detection and reporting of sexual abuse may be a flaw or a weakness in the system he has established," Mr Kerr said.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.