Royal Commission leaves door slightly open for including Churches

royal commission

The draft terms of reference for a Royal Commision have restricted an inquiry into historical abuse to state institutions, but the Catholic and Anglican churches have both said they would like to be included in it.

On 26 March the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said she stood by her belief that the inquiry should look primarily into what happened to children while in the care of the state.

However, the Royal Commision does have the power to recommend changes to the draft terms of reference.

It is obliged to listen to submissions from those seeking to broaden the scope of the inquiry and to take them into account when making recommendations to parliament.

But last week in an interview on RNZ’s Nine to Noon, the Commission’s chairman, Sir Anand Satyanand, reiterated that the focus of inquiry is likely to be on those who were abused while in state care.

“The view so far is if it is restricted to the state as we’ve been seeking, there is a clarity of purpose and the ability to start in the middle of this year and look at people who were involved in those institutions at that time,” he said.

“There may be spin-offs. There may be at the end of that a need to think of those other people, but there is clarity of purpose that makes this piece of work manageable within a relatively limited period of time.”

Satyanand said that to take the inquiry beyond state institutions and to do something like that which was done in Australia would mean a much longer commission, much more time and much, much more money.

This is the first time a Royal Commission had asked for the public’s feedback on terms of reference.

The legislation governing Royal Commissions passed in 2013 stipulates that parliament first draws up draft terms of reference.

The Royal commission then invites interested parties to make submissions on these draft terms of reference.

After hearing all the submissions, the Commission recommends definitive terms of reference to parliament for its approval.

It is parliament which makes the final decision.

Listen to the whole interview with Sir Anand Satyanand


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