Royal Commission into state care abuse stalled, says lawyer

royal commission

A lawyer working for New Zealand victims of abuse in state care says Australia’s apology to their victims of child sexual abuse should embarrass New Zealand into getting on with its own Royal Commision.

Sonja Cooper, who represents some of those abused while in state care in New Zealand, said she’s disappointed about the slow progress on an inquiry.

She said New Zealand doesn’t even have terms of reference for its own inquiry, despite consultation finishing at the end of April.

Cooper said the process has been completely stalled, which she suspected was a finance issue.

“I worry about the political will to actually get this done,” she said.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse in state care was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin in February 2018.

“The Government has been giving serious consideration to Sir Anand’s recommendation following that consultation and to the inquiry’s final shape,” said Martin in the latest update on the Royal Commission’s website posted at the beginning of October.

“There is substantial work in establishing a Royal Commission and finalising things such as scope, cost, operational set-up and membership.

“The largest is determining the final terms of reference, which involves looking at a range of technical and legal matters.”

Martin said there are also a number of budget issues to work through.

These include understanding how the Royal Commission plans to undertake the inquiry, the structure of the secretariat and other functions such as IT and property that will support it.

“Establishing an inquiry of this magnitude is similar to setting up a small government agency,” the Minister said.

The Ministerial working group is expected to meet in the next month to consider a range of matters before it goes to cabinet for final decisions.


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