Unacceptable failure on protecting Tasmanian children exposes weak core of Gutwein Cabinet

Tasmanian Labor
  • Weak Cabinet incapable of dealing with extremely serious issues
  • Minister Shelton and Minister Howlett not up to the job
  • Children, families and workers overlooked as cover-up prioritised
  • Critical opportunities to examine horrific child sex abuse were brushed aside and ignored by Gutwein Government Ministers more intent on secrecy than helping families and survivors.

    Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was becoming increasingly clear that members of Peter Gutwein’s Cabinet chose to keep information they had been handed in relation to former Launceston General Hospital nurse James Griffin secret when they had a responsibility to investigate.

    “The woeful performances of Ministers in Question Time today have exposed the weaknesses at the heart of Peter Gutwein’s Government,” Ms White said.

    “This is one of the weakest Cabinets Tasmania has ever seen and they have badly mishandled an incredibly serious matter involving the welfare of children.

    “Police Minister Mark Shelton could barely cobble together a reply today.

    “Sports Minister Jane Howlett could barely answer questions and failed to say what action she or her department had taken after they received a Coroner’s report on Griffin’s death.”

    The Coroner’s report, released on May 18 this year, found that a woman had made a complaint of historic sexual abuse by Griffin to police in May 2019.

    “An investigation followed. Mr Griffin was formally interviewed. During that interview, after caution, he made admissions that he had met the child through a local sporting group where he had acted as a masseuse. He also made admissions of criminal sexual misconduct in relation to her,” the Coroner found.

    “Ms Howlett simply failed to act to ensure other potential survivors were given the chance to come forward,” Ms White said.

    “Ms Howlett’s pitiful performance on the floor of the Parliament today when confronted with this truth speaks volumes about the weakness of this government.

    “Ms Howlett and Mr Shelton aren’t up to the job.

    “The concerning thing in this terrible matter is that Mark Shelton and Jane Howlett are the best the Liberal Party can offer.

    “What that amounts to is an appalling failure in the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of children in its care.”

    Rebecca White MP

    Labor Leader

    /Public Release. View in full here.