KATHRYN ROBINSON, PRESENTER: For more on this now I’m joined by Labor MP Linda Burney the Shadow Minister for Human Services [sic] from Parliament House in Canberra – good evening to you Linda Burney thank you for joining us tonight.
LINDA BURNEY: Good Evening.
ROBINSON: As we’ve just heard Scott Morrison has committed to supporting a non-binding motion for a Royal Commission into disability care. This is a good step isn’t it?
BURNEY: This is a very good step that there is now bi-partisan support for a Royal Commission. That doesn’t take away from the fact that the Morrison Government voted three times against a Royal Commission but we have the agreement now. The real question now is the speed at which the Royal Commission is established, the budget allocation for the Royal Commission and we encourage the Government very much that they move quickly on this and do not leave it.
You could not be anything except inspired by the people that came to Canberra today, by the people I’ve met over the last few weeks. Their carers, their parents – the people with disabilities themselves. They deserve this Royal Commission.
ROBINSON: Linda Burney you mention the timing is of the essence here – should the Royal Commission be held before or after the election?
BURNEY: I am worried that there will be delay tactics by the Government in terms of this Royal Commission. Labor is very committed to developing the terms of reference and we believe for it to be a true terms of reference it needs to be developed with people with a disability, their carers and advocates.
But we are worried that it will be pushed off into the long grass and we don’t want to see this happen. As I said earlier, these people have been waiting a long time, the abuses continue as we speak and a Royal Commission is the king of inquiries and it will shine a light on this, it will provide healing but very importantly, it will also provide direction and improvements in the systems that apply to people with disability.
ROBINSON: What needs to happen now to get the ball rolling in your opinion? We heard from Senator Steele-Jones [sic] this afternoon, asking Scott Morrison to pick up the phone and call the state and territory ministers, is it as simple as that?
BURNEY: There does need to be negotiation with the states and territories, particularly because we are advocating very strongly that there needs to be a historical context to the Royal Commission so that stories from ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years ago can be told and obviously many of the institutions run by the states have been involved in those sorts of activities – but it should not be used as an excuse to delay the setting up of a Royal Commission, the choosing of the Royal Commissioners and developing the terms of reference in consultation with the advocacy groups.
It’s not like this is new material for those people that have been living with a disability or carers or advocates – they know what’s needed and I don’t think it will take a great deal of time to set up the terms of reference, make a budget allocation towards a Royal Commission and get it started.
ROBINSON: What areas would you like to see included in the terms of reference? Should this Royal Commission be narrow or should it be broad?
BURNEY: No it should be broad, that’s very important and thank you for asking that question. For us to get and for the Australian people and for people with disability it has to be broad. It has to show what the interface is with the education system. For example, many children with disability go to special schools, they go to regular schools. The health system obviously, mental health system, rehabilitation facilities and justice is another one. Those interfaces need to be a very important part of a broad ranging inquiry like this – like we’re suggesting. And as I said the other part of it is that there needs to be a historical context.  So that stories from long ago – adults now and when they were children and young teens can be told.  I met a woman the other day who was sexually abused in an institution. It took her 30 years ago to talk about that, and that’s important.
ROBINSON: Could this day of delayed justice – as we heard in the story before this interview – could this day have been brought forward, if the Labor Party had brought this issue up in Question Time earlier, in the last year or two?
BURNEY: Well, let’s be clear on what the history is here. There was a Senate enquiry in 2015. The first recommendation was a commitment to a Royal Commission. It took the Government 15 months to respond to that. In late May 2016 [sic], the Labor Party announced and made a financial commitment to a Royal Commission and have been running an ongoing petition towards that.
So it’s not like we haven’t announced it. It’s not like there wasn’t a budget commitment to have the first year of the Royal Commission. It has been on the books for - two years. And it was last Thursday the Government voted against – last Wednesday that the Government voted against it. And on Thursday when it did come to the house, the Prime Minister extended Question Time to avoid a vote - as much as he saying he didn’t. So this is not something new for Labor. We have been in this game for a long time, and we are very pleased now, very very pleased that it is going to be a bi-partisan approach.
ROBINSON: Finally, Linda Burney if I may - just ask you question on the other political story of the day - the cybersecurity breach. Do you know much more about that, and does the timing at all concern you, given it’s an election year?
BURNEY: I don’t know any more than what’s on the public record, and I think we’re all in that situation. Clearly, when it comes to security Labor is at one with the Government on this.  Cybersecurity is particularly concerning, and as you said, especially in an election year. Democracy is precious – and that’s what we’re protecting here. So we are working closely, and at one with the Government on making sure that no stone is left unturned, to find out who did this, what was hacked, and what the implications are. But as I say, we are at one with the Government when it comes to security, including cybersecurity.