Public Servants Silenced

Public Servants Silenced

Northern Territory Shadow Minister for Child Protection Robyn Lambley

Northern Territory Shadow Minister for Children and Families Robyn Lambley

Kon’s Cover-Up Culture

Victor P Taffa

The Henderson Government has refused a request by Araluen MLA Robyn Lambley to meet with Department of Children and Families officers in her capacity as Shadow Minister.

Mrs. Lambley made the request on the basis that she wanted to see how the agency operates on the ground, but was instead told by an aide to Minister Kon Vatskalis that she should seek a Departmental briefing instead.

“My interest is in getting a grass-roots perspective of how the agency operates, not a top down appraisal from the perspective of a Ministerial functionary.” Mrs. Lambley said.

“As a Shadow Minister, I think it is important that I have access to employees within the Department I’m charged with scrutinising rather than simply mouth-pieces of the Government.”

“What does the Government have to hide? Why would it want to maintain a shroud of secrecy over an area of operation that has been extensively scrutinised over the past 18 months?”

“It seems very strange that I can meet with School Principals and School Staff as much as I like but not Child Protection Staff.” Mrs. Lambley said.

“Instead of taking a glass half empty approach, the Minister should see my exchanges with staff as an opportunity for them to highlight the improvements they believe have occurred in Child Protection since the release of the Bath-Bambridge report last October.”

“The excuse offered by the Minister’s staffer for refusing my request was that it breached the Public Sector Employment Act. When I asked to be shown the relevant section, I was sent a copy of the ‘Principles and Code of Conduct’ from the Public Sector Employment and Management Act.” Mrs. Lambley said.

“While S8.2 of the Act outlines conditions upon which Public Servants may talk to Opposition members, it stops well short of a blanket ban.”

“That, it appears, is the Minister’s job.” Mrs. Lambley said.