Shadow Child Safety Minister Stephen Bennett.
Shadow Child Safety Minister Stephen Bennett. Contributed

Bennett criticises timing of child sex abuse report release

THE timing of a release of a landmark report aimed at tackling sexual abuse of indigenous children has been smacked down by LNP Shadow Child Safety Minister Stephen Bennett.

The report was released by Child Safety Minister Di Farmer during Budget Estimates hearings yesterday.

It was released in response to the 2013 Smallbone Report into sexual violence, which showed rates of youth sexual offences in west Cairns and Aurukun in Cape York were seven times higher than the state average.

Mr Bennett said the reports' "dumping exposed that Labor's culture of secrecy and cover up knew no bounds".

"Annastacia Palaszczuk's Cabinet has suppressed this important report for 16 months," Mr Bennett said.

"Minister Di Farmer has had the report for at least 8 months."

"It speaks volumes that the government chose to release the final report in the middle of a committee hearing when it was impossible to properly examine its findings.

"Even more appalling was the Minister's response, when challenged, about why the report had not been released earlier."

During yesterday's Estimates Hearings, Ms Farmer said of the report's release that "Now is as good a day as any to do it".

But Mr Bennett disagreed.

"Quite frankly Ms Farmer, for the children who are at daily risk of abuse, a better day would have been about 12 months ago," he said.

"The Government's response acknowledges that 'some recommendations in the Final Report will have immediate impact' - so why didn't Labor action these recommendations as a matter of urgency to help keep Queensland's children safe?

"While the Queensland Government has been sitting on the final report for 16 months, the number of children that have been subject to substantiated sexual harm has increased by 5.6 per cent in the last reported year alone."