Queensland’s Child Safety Minister has faced the music, in the wake of revelations: a former assistant was a history of accessing child pornography.
Sharon Fentiman said she had “no knowledge” of the man’s conviction until alerted by the clerk of the parliament in late October as Queensland Parliament does not conduct criminal checks.
Hayden Schofield was handed a suspended 15 month sentence in 2011, for accessing and possessing child exploitation images.
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He worked for Ms Fentiman for a month, resigning the day before Annastacia Palaszczuk called the election, on October 29.
“I received advice on the 28th of October from the clerk of the parliament that this officer had an undisclosed criminal history on the undertaking I took this information confidentially,” Ms Fentiman said.
“I had absolutely no knowledge of this and was as shocked and horrified as everyone else.”
“I sought the staff member’s resignation that day.”
Ms Fentiman said it highlighted an issue with the Parliament’s employment procedures and the policy has since been changed to ensure background checks are now undertaken.
“What this shows is a significant gap in the policies and procedures of the Queensland parliament and I am pleased the clerk has made changes to HR policies to require criminal checks.
“We need to make sure these checks are done, it effects every politician.”
The LNP was quick to jump on the issue, one week out from the November 25 poll, saying Ms Palaszczuk had failed thousands of Queensland’s most vulnerable children.
“Families have lost trust in the Premier and her ability to manage Queensland’s child safety system,” Shadow Child Safety Minister Ros Bates said in a statement.
“Today’s reports … (are) simply disgusting,” the member for Mudgeeraba said.