Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Campbell and Thwaites: Gross Incompetence or Deliberate Deception?

The revelation today that the Victorian Minister for Community Services, Christine Campbell had received a letter from a youth worker expressing concern over chroming by children in the care of the Victorian Government raises serious questions of accountability.

When the issue first surfaced, I said there was need for national guidelines to ensure that community organisations receiving taxpayer’s dollars followed community standards.

Minister Campbell’s office rejected this, claiming ‘we already have guidelines based on community values and they didn’t prevent this practice’.

If there are such guidelines, why didn’t Minister Campbell respond to Councillor Reade Smith’s letter, rather than simply flick passing the issue to the Health Minister?

Councillor Reade Smith’s letter is crystal clear in describing what was happening and in seeking guidance from the Government.

Does the flick pass of the letter to the Health Minister show that Minister Campbell knew what was going on but just didn’t want to deal with the issue?

At best, Premier Bracks is surrounded by gross ministerial incompetence. At worst, his Government is deliberately misleading the Victorian public.

In either case, the Commonwealth, which provides funds to states for services to vulnerable youth, is justified in demanding standards of accountability.

Now that Minister Campbell has in her possession for the second time Councilor Reade Smith’s letter, will she repeat her claim that adequate guidelines already exist?

How long will Minister Campbell continue to weakly claim that she had no knowledge of this affair?