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Statement By The Australian Governor-General 24/2

STATEMENT BY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL

24 FEBRUARY 2002

The Official Secretary of the Governor-General today issued the following statement:

“The Governor-General has viewed today’s edition of the Sunday program and does not believe that it raised any substantive issues that were not addressed in his previous statements.

“The program refers to a letter from the Brisbane diocesan clergy sexual abuse committee about Ross McAuley, then Cathedral Precentor, concerning allegations of an inappropriate sexual advance made by McAuley to an adult male.

“The Governor-General was mindful of this letter and his recollection of its contents when he issued his statement of 20th February 2002. The statement said the committee had made written recommendations, including that McAuley be stood down and receive counselling.

“The statement went on to say that, after receiving the committee’s report, he had investigated the matter. He interviewed McAuley and the complainant and concluded that the allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour could not be corroborated and that there were insufficient grounds to remove McAuley as Precentor. The Governor-General’s statement noted his then view that the matter essentially arose from an irreconcilable breakdown between them in relation to a business venture being undertaken by them.

“The Governor-General is seeking to retrieve a copy of the letter and other relevant diocesan records from the Brisbane Diocese and will follow up with a further statement, if necessary.

“In relation to Sylvia Blayse who has appeared in the media over recent days, the Governor-General reiterates that he cannot recollect making the statements attributed to him and that, if he did comment on the sexual failing of certain men, it was definitely not his intention to condone unacceptable conduct of the type raised by Ms Blayse.

“The Sunday program returned to the Toowoomba Prep School issue by reporting a record of a School Council meeting stating that a child abuse unit had urged that all parents be notified of the abuse of children following Kevin Guy’s suicide.

“The Governor-General notes that his February 20 statement covered this point when it referred to an action plan formulated by the School Council and the Toowoomba Hospital’s SCAN Team, which included a decision that the headmaster speak to all children at the school at the earliest opportunity after the holidays. This was a decision for the school and the headmaster to implement. The Governor-General’s statement of 19th December 2001 explained that, as Archbishop, he had no more than an ex officio role on the School Council, did not attend its meetings, and had no right to vote. Therefore, he had no involvement in the decision to directly approach only the parents of the girls named by Guy in his suicide note.

“Finally, the Governor-General wishes to repeat his unreserved apology for comments made in his Australian Story interview inferring that a 14-year-old girl might have instigated a sexual relationship with a clergyman. The Governor-General is profoundly sorry for the hurt and anger that the comment has caused. He reiterates his unreserved apology for that comment. He declares unequivocally that there are no circumstances under which any blame can be attached to any under-age person involved in such an incident.

“The Governor-General will co-operate fully with the church inquiry in Brisbane and is committed to do everything in his power to help the community fight against the abominable crime of child sexual abuse.”

ENDS

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