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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 73

Mr RUDD (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister’s policy announcement just before question time, outlining his response to the crisis of child abuse in Indigenous communities, as revealed in the report Little children are sacred. I indicate to the Prime Minister that I will do whatever I can to work with him to address this response to the crisis of child abuse in Australian Indigenous communities. On that basis, would the Prime Minister and his minister, the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, provide an urgent briefing to the shadow minister and me on the proposals that he has put forward, their detail and the funding attached to them, subsequent to question time?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I will be happy to facilitate a full briefing. I will speak to my minister. I welcome what the Leader of the Opposition has said. This is a national emergency. There is no greater obligation that this parliament has than the obligation of caring for the young and vulnerable in our community. We are dealing with a group of young Australians for whom the concept of childhood innocence has never been present. That is a sad and tragic event. Exceptional measures are required to deal with an exceptionally tragic situation. That has been the substance of what I announced a few minutes ago.

In the course of saying that, I pay tribute to the minister responsible, the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. From the moment he assumed that portfolio, he identified this problem and he pursued it. He was ridiculed and criticised by some for doing so. If he had not pursued it, the inquiry which has led to this response would never have been established. I thank him for the contribution he has made. I know that he is very committed and will be very happy to brief your shadow minister on the substance of the matter.