Following the latest devastating revelations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy, and of the ongoing and systematic campaign of cover-ups by the Catholic Church, the Secular Party of Australia asserts that there is an urgent need for a national Royal Commission into this important issue. We are not convinced that the government of either New South Wales or Victoria is serious in their respective inquiries. Both of these governments are very reluctant to instigate a state Royal Commission with appropriate and wide-ranging terms of reference and full powers. One obvious question is “Why?” Is it possible that although the DLP has only one sitting MP, Peter Kavanagh, in the Victorian Legislative Council, its descendants are still a political force in other parties and governments? The Coalition in NSW springs to mind, with a high proportion of members with Catholic Church affiliation, including the Premier, Barry O’Farrell.

In the New South Wales Commission of Inquiry the focus will be restricted to the police handling and investigation of allegations of cover-ups in the Hunter region only, rather than on the Catholic Church itself, the abuse it has perpetrated on innocent and vulnerable victims, and its covering-up of these offences.

Surely this is where the root of the problem lies. It appears that neither the NSW Commission of Inquiry nor the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry is really serious about getting to the heart of the matter: who knew what about this, when did they know it, and what did they do about it? As yet no victims have been called to give evidence to the Victorian inquiry. At least now the Catholic Church in Victoria has agreed to co-operate with the inquiry and provide access to its own private files on reported cases of abuse. This is a step in the right direction. However it is to be hoped that none of the seriously incriminating material in these files will be withheld, and that none of it has already been destroyed. The NSW Government claims that its inquiry will have all the powers of a Royal Commission. Why then does it not yield to the growing calls for a proper Royal Commission into this appalling affair? Nothing less will satisfy either the victims or the general public

Nov 12, 2012