Turning a blind eye to child sexual abuse

The Australian

August 2, 2017

National Chief Correspondent

When Australia’s ongoing $500 million Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse makes a legally binding finding that a governor-general, Peter Hollingworth, misled an earlier child sexual abuse inquiry about his ­direct knowledge and handling of a priest’s pedophilia, should anything happen?

Can taxpayer-funded entitlements of more than $500,000 a year for a vice-regal pension and other perks be withheld from someone found this year to have misled an inquiry at the time he held the country’s highest public office 15 years ago?

These are questions Malcolm Turnbull has been asked to consider for child sexual abuse sur­vivors. They are perplexed that the commission’s adverse findings in February this year went largely under the public radar but say Hollingworth should nevertheless be parted from a public purse that has paid out more than $6m for his pension and expenses since he resigned as Australia’s 23rd governor-general.

The historical context is key. During a term as governor-general that lasted just 23 months until he quit amid public opprobrium in May 2003, Hollingworth, the former Anglican archbishop of Brisbane, faced grave accusations about his role in an alarming series of child sexual abuse cases in the diocese. The perpetrators were clergy and teachers in the Anglican churches and schools while he was in charge for 12 years until 2001.

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