Weatherill Cabinet leaks turn into a flood
Monday, 12 December 2016
Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today the fourth leak in three months of a confidential Weatherill Government Cabinet document was a clear indication of a deeply divided and dysfunctional government.
The latest leak is a Cabinet submission drafted just prior to the last election from Minister Jack Snelling relating to keeping secret details of serious criminal charges against government employees.
This leak follows the leaking of the cost of bidding for the Rolling Stones concert, the cost of the termination of Small Business Commissioner Michael Sinkunas and details of the Government’s plans for the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site.
The Cabinet submission title was ‘SA Health Inter Agency Taskforce on disclosure of serious criminal offences and measured being implemented by SA Health to respond to these matters’ and was dated 11 August 2013.
The submission deals with the proposed communications strategy to be adopted by the Weatherill Government in dealing with controversial cases. Minister Snelling asks Premier Weatherill and Cabinet to note that in three of the four cases the details were to be kept secret.
In one case the Weatherill Government kept secret details relating to a senior medical specialist who had worked in two metropolitan hospitals and was charged with possessing and disseminating child pornography.
“It was recommended that disclosure would not be made because it was considered the alleged offender was not a risk regarding access to children.
The basis of the recommendation was that the nature of the alleged offences i.e. viewing and disseminating of child pornography were not contact offences, there was no evidence by the government investigator that any other inappropriate activity with children had taken place and he did not have direct access to children during the period he was working at the _____ Hospital and _____ Hospital.”
Last year the Health Practitioners Tribunal suspended his licence and after his suspension expired he was banned from working with children and from working at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The Weatherill Government needs to explain publicly their handling of this issue and why they actually believed it was in the public interest to keep all the details of the case secret.
In a second case a person who had been employed as a nurse at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Lyell McEwin Hospital and was a volunteer with SA Ambulance Service was charged as a Scouts leader with unlawful sexual intercourse, rape, persistent sexual abuse of a child and administering and supplying a prescription drug (Offences occurred outside SA Health).
Cabinet noted that the details would be kept secret because it was considered there was ‘not a risk regarding access to children.’
“The basis of this recommendation was that the investigation by the government investigator found no evidence or suspicion relating to interaction by this person with any patient or former patient and that the criminal allegations against this person involved one alleged victim in confined circumstances. It was also considered that there was more concern about the allegations of drug stealing than any inappropriate activity with children in SA Health’s care.”
“It is almost impossible to believe that the Weatherill Government considered drug stealing was ‘more concerning’ than allegations of rape, unlawful sexual intercourse and persistent sexual abuse of a child,” said Mr Lucas.
In a third case the Inter Agency Task Force actually recommended that 34 clients of an employee of a mental health facility be advised that rape charges had been lodged and then withdrawn against the employee.
The Taskforce recommended disclosure of details:
“The above recommendations were made on the basis that there is evidence (from interviews of other staff and clients undertaken by the government investigators) that Mr ___ spend a lot of time with clients unsupervised over many years including escorting a client on an interstate trip to Sydney.
Other serious allegations that were made while he was working with SA Health in 2000 that were not investigated appropriately and the serious nature of the current charges, four counts of rape (albeit now about to be withdrawn).”
Even though the Task Force recommended disclosure of details the Weatherill Government took further advice from the Crown Solicitor who recommended against disclosing any details. The Weatherill Government decided not to disclose any details.
“The fact that the Cabinet was considering the communications strategies relating to these cases is a clear indication the Weatherill Government was concerned about details of cases being made public in the months leading up to the election,” said Mr Lucas.
“The obvious question now is how many other cases have there been where the details of cases have been kept secret by the Weatherill Government?
“The Weatherill Government stands condemned for the way they have handled these issues.
“This flood of Cabinet leaks is a clear sign of a Government and a Premier that is in serious trouble.”