The Federal Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, has called upon the Prime Minister to advise the Queen to terminate the Governor-General’s appointment.
Crean’s call for Dr. Hollingworth to be removed from his post represents a serious moment in the controversy over child sexual abuse that has been swirling around the Governor-General.
Text of statement by the Opposition Leader, Simon Crean.
After serious consideration of the statement issued last night by the Governor-General, I now believe it is in the best interests of the nation and the Office of Governor-General that the Prime Minister advise the Queen to terminate Dr Hollingworth’s appointment.
I have informed the Governor-General of my view this morning and I have discussed this with the Prime Minister.
Child sexual abuse is a blight on our community and we must work together as a community to eradicate it.
It is a tragedy that a failure to deal appropriately with the issue of child sexual abuse stretching back decades has now caused this deeply distressing outcome for the victims, the nation, and Dr Hollingworth and his family.
It is essential that all children – in fact anyone who is abused – knows they can turn to those in authority and be believed and cared for.
The statement of the Governor-General refers to some acts which clearly involve conduct against children of a criminal nature and in cases abuse of trust.
The Governor-General states that the sexual abuse of children is “one of the most repugnant and serious of crimes” which “can never be condoned or excused.”
It is evident that in some cases the Governor-General has taken the view that it has been appropriate to attempt to resolve these serious matters by way of counselling, mediation and civil settlements. This, in my view, was a serious error of judgement.
The Governor-General acknowledged that those in positions of authority “have a clear obligation to protect children from this vile activity and abuse of power”. In my view the statement reveals instances where the Governor-General’s conduct was inconsistent with that obligation.
A Governor-General must be a symbol of unity and our nation’s values and must have the confidence of the nation.
As such, the current controversy is a serious matter in the life of the nation and the consequences are beyond politics.
It is my view that the Office of the Governor-General will continue to be caught up in ongoing controversy and that Dr Hollingworth will be caught up in inquiries leaving the controversy unresolved.
It is therefore in the best interests of the Office of the Governor-General and Dr Hollingworth personally, that this matter be resolved without delay.
Delay will only further damage the Office of Governor-General, and harm Dr Hollingworth and his family.
At all times since the matters were first raised I have attempted to ensure that the Governor-General has had the opportunity to respond.
My first public comments on this issue were in December last year when the original allegations arose. At that time I said it would be helpful for the Governor-General to make a full and public statement responding to those allegations.
On 20 December last year I welcomed the Governor-General’s statement but also called for a more detailed response or, failing that, the Prime Minister to satisfy himself as to these matters and advise the public accordingly.
When the situation remained unresolved earlier this year I had a meeting with the Governor-General to discuss the circumstances.
Since then he has twice attempted to clarify the situation. Unfortunately, on both of those occasions, his explanation has not adequately addressed the community’s concerns.
Whatever the Governor-General’s explanation, I believe that the continuing controversy will diminish the Office of the Governor-General.
On that basis the Prime Minister should advise the Queen to terminate Dr Hollingworth’s appointment.