May 12, 2020
By Kenneth Good
In the long and still unfinished search for justice, two agencies have been outstanding. The Victorian Police performed dogged investigatory work, and the Royal Commission over five years compiled damning evidence. On 12 November 2012, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox called for the establishment of a Royal Commission. He was a 30-year veteran in Newcastle, and wrote an open letter to the NSW Premier: “I can testify from my own experience that the church covers-up, silencing victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests.” None of that stops at the Victorian border. “The whole system needs to be exposed; the clergy covering up these crimes must be brought to justice and the network protecting paedophile priests dismantled” (quoted in David Marr, The Prince). Backed by many Labour party backbenchers, and federal centrist politicians, PM Julia Gillard, the country’s first woman leader, moved to establish a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Gillard faced constant misogynist attack from conservative figures, but did not flinch (Tony Abbott was ready to be photographed beside a huge poster, ‘Ditch the Bitch’). It was perhaps her ‘most lasting legacy’ (Louise Milligan, Cardinal). “It will change the nation”, Gillard claimed, as she left office.
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