I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Correctional Services a question about ongoing issues with respect to prisoner von Einem.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As a result of questions in November last year, the minister made several comments in relation to the allegations that prisoner von Einem was receiving sexual performance enhancing medication. In relation to ongoing investigations, the minister made the following comments:
We will leave no stone unturned. . . the Department for Correctional Services treats all allegations seriously and conducts its own investigations into allegations where appropriate. . . the department has significantly improved accountability in the corrections system.
My questions are:
1. What assurances did the minister seek prior to giving parliament the assurance on 6 February this year that investigations by Correctional Services were concluded?
2. Will she stand by all the comments she made last year?
3. Does she concede that her department’s internal investigation procedures are still inadequate given that it has taken other investigations to uncover this piece of ignored correspondence?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister for Correctional Services): I will make it perfectly clear once again. I was not aware that prisoner von Einem had been prescribed Cialis until November last year. There has not been any further investigation. Mr Severin advised me in November that he was unaware that Cialis had been prescribed. This was his genuine belief and recollection. Members of this council who have dealt with Mr Severin—and I believe the Hon. Michelle Lensink has dealt with him—should know that he is an honourable person; and to impeach his integrity in this way is a disgraceful act. I would ask the honourable member to read the ministerial statement that was laid before the house last week and the council this week.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have a supplementary question. Do I take it from the minister’s answer that she does stand by all those comments, including ‘no stone will be left unturned’?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: I am satisfied that the oversight by Mr Severin in no way compromised or delayed the investigation of sexual allegations against prisoner von Einem. The ministerial statement, which I laid on the table today and which was read in the house last week, is simply about setting the record straight—as indeed we should—that the CE had overlooked an earlier allegation that Bevan Spencer von Einem had been prescribed Cialis. It is important to recognise it. If the honourable member has been following the debate she would recognise that the prisoner’s letter was properly dealt with. I am advised that its contents subsequently led to police investigations into sexual offences committed by prisoner von Einem. It is not difficult to understand.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Can the minister inform the council of the date on which she was first advised of sexual misconduct allegations by prisoner von Einem? If she does not have that particular detail to hand, is she prepared to bring it back to the chamber?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: It is actually public knowledge. In January 2006, a respected Sunday Mail journalist, as he is known in this place, and indeed I believe he is, had an article published. When I became minister I was aware of that issue because I saw some correspondence that was sent to—I think I can say this—the mother of the person making the allegations, as part of caretaker mode.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Is the minister prepared to bring back a date on which she viewed that correspondence?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: I cannot bring an exact date because I probably did not mark it in my diary on that day, but it was part of the correspondence that I saw after becoming minister. I became minister on 23 March 2006; it probably was not in the first pile that I saw but it would have been some time that month.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Does the minister follow the procedure of previous ministers in marking ‘noted’ on correspondence?
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: That was a drop copy of some correspondence which had already been sent out.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: You did not listen, did you? It was sent out while we were in caretaker mode, so it was a drop copy of some correspondence. It will have a date on it and I cannot table something like that because, obviously, it is going to identify the person making the allegations.
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting:
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: Yes; I do not have a problem bringing back a date. As I said, it was in the paper, for heaven’s sake!
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: No; it was not.
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: Yes; it was. Nigel Hunt actually made—
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: The date of the letter.
The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: The date of the letter—that is right; yes.