December 13, 2007 | Graham

Beattie’s disgraceful Fabian speech

Peter Beattie, who once hounded a governor-general from office because he didn’t show enough empathy with victims of paedophilia, can’t even say sorry for the disgraceful treatment of a young Aurukun girl which occurred while he was Premier.
In a speech to the Fabian Society in Sydney he blamed everyone but himself for what happened to a 10 year old Aurukun girl. To those who haven’t been paying attention, this 10 year old girl was pack-raped. The perpetrators escaped a custodial sentence. She had been previously raped and put into foster care. Despite the pleas of her family she was returned to her community where they believed she would be raped again. Her mother says that one of those convicted had raped her when she was 7.
All the state actors in this girl’s tragedy – the crown prosecutor, the district court judge, and the child protection agency officials – were either appointed by the Beattie government, or responsible to it. Yet Beattie’s solution is not to reform the state agencies, but to suggest the Commonwealth ought to take over responsibility. No wonder. He won’t take responsibility himself.
So this is what Labor’s “ending the blame game” amounts to.
Beattie wants to use Labor’s majority around Australia to have a constitutional convention to, according to the ABC, “work out, once and for all, who has responsibility over what”. I’ve got news for Beattie – we had one of those just over one hundred years ago, and I’m sure that Rudd won’t be foolish enough to try a repeat. And that convention quite clearly put responsibility for law and order with the states, which is where it should be.
It is racist for Beattie to suggest that aborigines are a special case and ought not to be the responsibility of state governments in the same way that the rest of us are.
Beattie’s attitude ought to rule him out of any official jobs, on the standards he applied when he was Premier. The Department of Families in Queensland has been appalling, in some cases sending children who have been sexually assaulted back to the families where they have been assaulted, so that it has happened again. Not one officer or minister has resigned and taken responsibility. Beattie wouldn’t own the responsibility when he was Premier, perhaps he can be made to wear the consequences now he isn’t.
It’s ironic, that while Rudd is organising to say sorry to indigenous Australians for something most of us were not directly responsible for, this Premier can’t say sorry for something which executive officers under his government actually did.

Posted by Graham at 8:51 am | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. In an interview with Tony Koch from The Australian at the end of 2006, then-Premier beattie said “if, when I leave politics, indigenous affairs in Queensland have not been sorted out, I will consider I have failed.”
    I don’t know how you define or measure when it is “sorted out”, but I doubt you could find any criterion which would even come close to hitting a pass mark in Queensland (or anywhere else for that matter).
    Personally, I think the whole political and parliamentary system has failed Indigenous Australians and continues to do so, but in regards to people who have/had the most opportunity to do something about it, I don’t think one could disagree with Mr Beattie’s own assessment and agree that he has failed.
    Perhaps it would be worth reminding him of his own words from time to time.
    (I can’t find the original article online for some reason, but fortunately I wrote out the quote at the time)

    Comment by Andrew Bartett — December 13, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  2. Um, to blame Peter for the incompetence of one State Government employee is ridiculous. Sure there is such a thing as Executive responsibility, however it can really only travel so far. To suggest that Peter is responsible for the actions of someone about 20 rungs below him on the corporate ladder is naive. Sure we (and he) can empathise with the this dreadful situation, sure he maybe didn’t do what was required to ‘sort out’ indigenous affairs’ (has anybody??), but I think that is about as far as it goes.

    Comment by Justin — December 13, 2007 @ 11:03 am

  3. The Beattie / Bligh Labor Government must take responsibility. The Queensland justice and child safety system failed this child.
    Mr Beattie is on a mission to mythologize his past in Queensland. Next will be that book that he commissioned.
    The Labor Government has consistently wanted to try out their formulae of solutions on the people rather than spending time listening to them and their needs. Government insists they know better. It’s the same in almost every other aspect of their administration. They’re too far removed from the reality, too powerful and too comfortable in government to understand or to communicate and listen effectively.
    The attitudes and processes used through this horrible debacle where yet one more young person’s life will be so affected have permeated from the government through the bureaucracy. It is a reflection of a notional form of Labor’s social justice, but instead is unjust to victims and, ultimately, to those who cause the crimes who don’t realise what it is to be responsible and accept the consequences of their actions.
    The most sickening aspect of this, and other tragedies, is that government continually wants people to believe that government is better at parenting than parents themselves. Yet they have failed and continue to fail so many young people.

    Comment by Derek Sheppard — December 13, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

  4. Justin, Beattie was a rotten Premier who presided over an increasingly rotten government/public service system in an autocratic and ad hoc manner. Of course he should take responsibility, but he has failed to do so far many years, don’t expect him to change now.

    Comment by Faustino — December 14, 2007 @ 11:28 am

  5. I think Justin makes a good point. Beattie didn’t make the actual decisions in the case of the 10 year old.
    Beattie made a good effort but he could have done more.

    Comment by J Green — December 15, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

  6. I think that the word “racist” slips off the lips too easily.In the past these children were removed from such degradation only now to be labelled the stolen generation.Subsistence cultures do some really nasty things out of ignorance and necessity.Twin babies were culled since the parents could only afford to look after one.We only have to go a few hundred yrs into our European culture to see some really barbaric behaviour.
    Paedophilia seems to span all cultural barriers.Children under the age of sixteen abusing ten yr olds under our laws,are virtually untouchable.When it becomes culturally endemic in communities that are hateful and suspicious of our laws and society,then there breeds a chasm of ignorance and despair that is self perpetuating.
    I would balk at blaming individuals like Peter Beatty,since in the past,we were racists who created the stolen generation,and now are labelled racists due to our inaction.
    I suspect that this behaviour is common place in some Aboriginal communities that is largely a result of Aboriginal Culture being able to ignore our laws.
    Do we gaol whole communities that have come to accept this behaviour as the norm?You don’t change this behaviour with the implementation of white man’s law.Elimate sit down money and let to a degree,the economic and natural environment bring discipline and self respect back to their lives.We cannot have a sense of right and wrong unless there is real purpose linked to common community goals.There are no real consequences for this poor behaviour,since the social security cheques just keep rolling in.

    Comment by Arjay — December 17, 2007 @ 8:16 pm

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