Christian Porter tweeted a selfie with former PM John Howard from the cricket on Thursday. Picture: Twitter Royal commission set to be handed down
Christian Porter tweeted a selfie with former PM John Howard from the cricket on Thursday. Picture: Twitter Royal commission set to be handed down

$477m spent on this, so why was he at the cricket?


SOCIAL Services Minister Christian Porter has come under fire for skipping the final hearings of the long-running institutional child-abuse royal commission for a day at the cricket.

The WA MP posted a snap from the WACA with former prime minister John Howard, enjoying the first day of the Perth Test.

"Enjoying the last Ashes test at the WACA with the No. 1 cricket fan in Australia," he tweeted.

But followers didn't seem to share the grins the two Liberal politicians had in the picture, with dozens slamming the minister for skipping the commission's seminal closing session.

 

 


"Shame you missed the child abuse hearings though, isn't it?" one follower wrote.

"Aren't you the minister for social services, Christian? Don't you have an obligation to attend the child abuse royal commission and comment on its findings?" said another.

"I hope you enjoyed the cricket but wasn't there a rather important royal commission wrapping up today? One that is directly linked to your portfolio? You really do have curious priorities ..."

Thursday's milestone hearings marked the final sitting of the abuse royal commission which ran for five years and heard from tens of thousands of witnesses, victims and relatives.

The session was attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten along with other senior political figures.

A spokesman for Mr Porter told news.com.au the minister's involvement was "just on the redress scheme" and said responsibility for the royal commission fell under the Attorney-General's portfolio.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and PM Malcolm Turnbull look through the Message to Australia book that was published from handwritten letters from victims of child sexual abuse. Picture: Jeremy Piper
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and PM Malcolm Turnbull look through the Message to Australia book that was published from handwritten letters from victims of child sexual abuse. Picture: Jeremy Piper

During the final session, head of the royal commission Justice Peter McClellan said the sexual abuse of children was not just a problem from the past, with children continuing to be abused in institutions today.

He said many institutions failed children over many decades with the child protection, criminal and civil justice systems letting them down.

"There may be leaders and members of some institutions who resent the intrusion of the royal commission into their affairs," Justice McClellan told the final sitting of the five-year inquiry in Sydney on Thursday.

"However, if the problems we have identified are to be adequately addressed, changes must be made.

"There must be changes in the culture, structure and governance practices of many institutions."

Justice McClellan said it was "the responsibility of our entire community to acknowledge that children are being abused".

"We must each resolve that we should do what we can to protect them," he said.

"The tragic impact of abuse for individuals and, through them, our entire society, demands nothing less."

Political leaders, heads of churches, charities and other institutions will face pressure to act immediately on the $500 million inquiry's recommendations when they are handed down today.

The final report will be released on Friday after being handed to the Governor-General and tabled in parliament.

UNICEF Australia director of policy and advocacy Amy Lamoin said all political parties at state, territory and federal level must show bipartisan support for necessary reforms and the implementation of the commission's recommendations.

"We must ensure that, where responsibility for implementing the royal commission recommendations lies at an institutional level, that all types of institutions in Australia are held to account to make improvements in their processes around child safety and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse," she said.

Child protection advocate Bravehearts said the royal commission could be ineffectual unless governments, child protection authorities and institutions act decisively.

The group commended moves by governments and institutions to implement some of the inquiry's existing recommendations but said all levels of government must ensure national consistency in how Australia protects its children.

"As a nation we can effect real change through legislation, policy and resourcing that will provide the support and best response for survivors of this crime, and for the prevention and early intervention of child sexual assault in our communities," founder Hetty Johnston said.

The Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council has called on Mr Turnbull and state premiers to immediately set up a COAG committee to implement the inquiry's recommendations.

CEO Francis Sullivan said institutions now have no other option than to step up and implement best practice in safeguarding and the prevention of the abuse of children.

"In the Catholic Church in particular, now is the time for action," he said. "It is far too thin an argument to insist that the scandal should be relegated to the history books."

Mr Turnbull said the recommendations would be considered "with the respect and care that they deserve".



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