Will he order an inquiry into the handling of sex abuse allegations against the principal of Hato Pāora College by his ministry and the board of Hato Pāora College; if not, why not?
My colleague the Minister of Education told the House on 22 November 2007 that he had already requested a report from his officials on this issue. Any information that the Ministry of Education has is now in the hands of the police, and as the matter is before the courts it is not appropriate to comment further.
Is the Minister aware that since his last statements to the House, where he strongly endorsed the process used by the school and his ministry, an Auckland lawyer has come forward to say he warned the school and the ministry during the appointment process, Child, Youth and Family has gone on the record to say that the school passed on only one of the two complaints, and further allegations have been made regarding the second complainant, who, at best, was encouraged, or at worst, was bullied, to stay silent; rather than just calling for a report, why does he not call for a full inquiry and get to the bottom of this matter?
While these matters are before the courts it is not appropriate for me to comment further on this case. I note again for the benefit of the member that all the relevant information held by the Ministry of Education has been provided to the police.
Is the Ministry of Education cooperating with the authorities in investigating these allegations?
Yes. All information held by the Ministry of Education has been handed over to the police. I am also aware from media reports at the weekend that others also claim to hold information relevant to the allegations. I urge them to make that information available to the police if they have not already done so.
Why does the Minister stand in the House and say that this matter is now before the courts and he cannot make any comments, when for nearly 3 weeks he has stood in this House and answered six primary questions and nearly 30 supplementary questions on this issue, but now that his story is starting to unravel and information continually comes out that proves that what he said in the House is wrong, he clams up and says the matter is before the courts?
The reason for the number of responses is that the same person has continually asked the same question. This matter is being fully investigated by the police—the place where it should be investigated.
Why will the Minister not order a real investigation into the handling of serious allegations of sexual abuse in a school, when he has been told that the board undertook its own interrogation of students, allegedly bullied one complainant into staying silent, and passed on selective evidence to Child, Youth and Family; when, unusually, Child, Youth and Family has gone on the record to say it received only one of the two complaints; and when we now hear that an Auckland lawyer told the school and the ministry during the application process that the appointment should not be made, yet the Minister shrugs his shoulders, and says it is not his problem and he is not doing anything about it?
All relevant material has been handed to the police. In relation to the further points that have been brought up by the lawyer or by anybody else, if anyone has relevant information, that needs to be forwarded to the police, because this matter is sub judice. If the member does not understand that, she should.
Is not the real reason the Minister will not order an inquiry into what the ministry did and did not do, and the process that was used, that he stood in the House week after week, saying that the school had followed the appropriate process and everything had gone along swimmingly, and that an inquiry will prove that almost everything he said in this House is wrong?