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Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry

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Articles by Chris Griffith Multimedia Journalist

Senate directs shredding probe

by Chris Griffith Written March 1994

Earlier this month, Mr Lindeberg addressed a Brisbane hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Public Interest Whistleblowing . He claimed a political connection between a CJC investigator and the Goss Government. "The last investigation was carried out by a barrister with known ALP connections and connections to the Queensland premier," Mr Lindeberg said. Mr Lindeberg said the investigator had "phoned my home, abused me, and attempted to intimidate me". "I complained to the CJC about this unsolicited call, but it did nothing," he said. Documents were tabled at the hearing indicating Mr Goss had worked together with the investigator on the management committee of the Caxton Street Legal Service in the early 1980s - Mr Goss was President, the now- investigator was the service's Legal Co-ordinator. In response, the head of the CJC's Misconduct Division, Mr Mark Le Grande, said he knew the case had "a long history", but said he could not speak "off the top of my head without access to the files". The committee's acting chair, Senator Christabel Chamarette, told Mr Le Grande "in light of submission you have given us, we will want to recall you for some further questions on that". Mr Le Grande said he would prepare a response for the committee.

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Coyne breaks silence

by Chris Griffith Published 4 September 1994 in The Sunday Mail

For the question remains - was the State Archivist, the Crown Solicitor, the Cabinet secretary, even the Goss Cabinet aware that on the 8th and 15th February 1990, Coyne's solicitors had notified the Family Services Department of his impending legal case, two weeks before Cabinet ordered the documents' destruction? Or was the Government's legal advice that the documents could be destroyed compiled without any knowledge of his intentions? It is now clear that Cabinet Secretary Stuart Tait made no reference to Coyne's impending legal action when on February 23, 1990, he wrote to archivist Lee McGregor seeking her advice on whether the documents could be destroyed and even encouraging their destruction. "The Government is of the view the material which I understand includes tape recordings, computer disks, and hardware notes is no longer required or pertinent to the public record," Mr Tait said.

Last week Queensland Senators Warwick Parer and Cheryl Kernot told the Senate that any withholding of information and the resulting shredding could amount to "prima facie official misconduct", even a criminal offence, a prospect that on Friday led Mr Goss to dismiss Senator Parer as "that decaying septagenarian, Liberal Senator, Mr Parer". (He's 58). Interwoven is Premier Goss's curt rejection on Wednesday of an all-party recommendation by the Senate Select Committee on Whistleblowing that his government "establish an independent investigation" into unresolved whistleblower cases - which includes the Coyne case.

"For me, the issue is in the past - it's dead," Coyne said yesterday. "I'm getting on with a new life and future, however this event has serious implications for the people of Queensland," he said. Highly significant, Coyne says, is the secrecy agreement the Family Services made a condition of him receiving a "redundancy payment" in October 1992 of $27,190. The bare facts of the Coyne case are now receiving wide media publicity. In 1989 the former National Party Government instituted an inquiry into the John Oxley Youth Centre, which Coyne managed.

Upon the Goss Government's election, new Family Services Minister Anne Warner prematurely ended the inquiry because it provided no legal immunity for its witnesses. Despite the inquiry's demise, the Family Services Department moved Coyne from the centre to "special duties" at Head Office, from where he said he was eventually declared involuntarily redundant.

In February 1990 Coyne, with the aid of his solicitor and Queensland Professional Officers' Association industrial officer Kevin Lindeberg, sought the Heiner Inquiry documents to seek damages from the Government, claiming the inquiry, while aborted, had led to Coyne's demise - a claim denied persistently by Ms Warner.

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