IN a stunning reversal, federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd
has opened up the door for the appointment of a new inquiry into the Heiner Affair - the scandalous cover-up of a gang rape
of a young girl while in the care of the Queensland Government, and the subsequent blocking of an investigation and the shredding
of its documents by the state's Goss Labor government, in which he was a senior public servant.
The Federal Government must act in the interest of justice, and of the abused child who has suffered long
for the mean purposes of successive Queensland Labor governments.
In a statement to The Sunday Telegraph, a spokesman for Mr Rudd said: "There have been many investigations
into these matters, at both the Queensland state level and by a number of federal parliamentary committees. In particular,
there was a special Commission of Inquiry chaired by former Queensland governor Leneen Forde.
"If there is any new evidence arising in relation to these matters then, of course, there may be grounds for
further investigation and inquiry. This includes any further investigation into the initial allegations, which in all circumstances
ought to be treated with the utmost seriousness ...''
There is an embarrassing overabundance of new evidence that was not considered by the limited inquiry conducted
by the former governor, who had never sat as a judge or acted as a barrister when appointed to run her narrow investigation.
Not only was there no indication at the time Queensland Premier Beattie established the Forde Inquiry in August,
1998, that the Goss government (in which Mr Rudd served) had known as early as March, 1990, about the child abuse the former
governor was poised to investigate but, as the Courier-Mail wrote on August 8, 1998: "The machinations that followed
a previous, ill-fated inquiry into the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre have been ruled out of bounds.''
Those "machinations'' have never been investigated and alone constitute new and significant evidence which
must be brought before an inquiry.
In whistleblower Kevin Lindeberg's submission to the Forde Inquiry in September 1998, described by counsel
assisting as "lucid and extensive'', he argued that it was not legally open to separate an investigation of abuse from the
fact that the Queensland Government had actually destroyed relevant evidence nine years earlier which covered up that same
abuse because obstruction of justice was a far more serious crime.
The inquiry said its terms of reference set by the Beattie government restrained it.
The truth is that the Forde Inquiry never confronted the reality that all the members of the Goss Cabinet -
which included at least five who served in the Beattie Cabinet - who participated in the decision to shred the Heiner
documents may, in the opinion of some the most senior legal figures, be guilty of the serious charge of obstruction of justice.
Further, advice and documents including that from then DPP Royce Miller QC to the former Borbidge government
relating to the 1996 Morris/Howard report into the Heiner Affair (which listed illegal acts and called for an inquiry) and
the 2005 Queensland government report to the governor into allegations raised by Mr Lindeberg, the former union official who
has pursued the scandal, have never been examined and also constitute new evidence.
Evidence of the failure of the Queensland Government and its law-enforcement bodies, including the CJC, CMC
and police to properly investigate Mr Lindeberg's complaints should be sufficient to trigger a new inquiry.
But just two weeks ago, Mr Rudd and Mr Beattie rejected the opinion of a former chief justice of the High
Court and a plea from a slew of senior legal notables that an independent special prosecutor be appointed to examine the matter.
Former Chief Justice Sir Harry Gibbs, in advice to Mr Lindeberg, had said the March, 1990, Cabinet submission
which led to the shredding of the Heiner Inquiry documents contained sufficient inculpatory evidence to warrant a prima facie
charge under Section 129 of the Queensland Code to be brought against those involved in the shredding decision.
In their letter to Mr Beattie seeking the appointment of an independent special prosecutor, the legal luminaries
expressed "deep concern about its (the law's) undermining, as the unresolved Heiner Affair reveals''.
They said an "unacceptable application of the criminal law by prima facie double standards, by Queensland
law-enforcement authorities'' had been exposed by the successful prosecution of another person, Douglas Ensbey, for destruction
of material which may be required as evidence under S129 - but not against members of the "Executive Government and certain
civil servants for similar destruction-of-evidence conduct''.
"Compelling evidence suggests that the erroneous interpretation of S129 of the Code, used by those authorities
to justify the shredding of the Heiner Inquiry documents, may have knowingly advantaged Executive Government and certain civil
servants,'' they wrote, noting that the Queensland Court of Appeal case in 2004 exposed the erroneous interpretation, and
they agreed with the late Sir Harry's advice that the reported facts represented, "at least, a prima facie offence under S129
concerning destruction of evidence''.
Even the 2004 House of Representatives committee, which also failed to win the co-operation of the Queensland
Government, recommended that "members of the Queensland Cabinet at the time that the decision was made to shred the documents
gathered by the Heiner Inquiry, be charged for an offence pursuant to Section 129 of the Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899.
Charges pursuant to sections 132 and 140 of the Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899 may also arise.''
And, if Mr Rudd needs further proof that there is new evidence warranting an independent investigation, there
is the 3000-page, nine-volume audit of the Heiner Affair researched by Sydney QC David Rofe, which concluded there were 67
unaddressed alleged prima facie criminal charges against the Cabinet and civil servants that needed to be addressed.
As Mr Beattie has consistently denied access to relevant documents by the peripheral inquiries which have
touched upon aspects of the Heiner Affair, it is imperative that Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock take up the cause.
There can be no public confidence in anyone associated with the Queensland Government at the time evidence
in the possession of the Crown was deliberately destroyed by order of the Goss Cabinet, obstructing justice and covering-up
unacceptable child abuse against children in the care and protection of the Crown.