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The Destruction of State Ward Records  

For thousands more articles on this shameful exercise just type Heiner Inquiry into Google

A shameful cover-up

Article from: The Sunday Telegraph
  • September 02, 2007 12:00am

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.


Suffer The Little Children

Named after the man (retired magistrate Noel Oscar Heiner) who conducted it, the Heiner inquiry was a short-lived investigation into complaints about what was going on in a Brisbane Youth Detention Centre in late 1989 early 1990.

Short-lived because a new government shut it down within weeks of coming to power.

Not only that. The new government, we now know, regardless (and aware) of the fact that the material the inquiry had gathered was being sought for legal action , and that it included information about child abuse, had the whole lot shredded.

Thus the name "Shreddergate" was coined for this infamous episode in the history of the State of Queensland.

What we have discovered over the years that the Heiner Inquiry heard and knew is revealed through the links on this site.

The cover-up has survived principally because of the failure of journalists to do the job they claim they do.

Other interests, or pressures, influenced them to look the other way.

Read more
'Shreddergate' ranked one of last century's worst cover-ups

By Adam Hicks

THE Heiner "Shreddergate" affair in Queensland has been ranked among the worst document-shredding scandals of the past century by an international publication on accountability and record-keeping in modern society.

The United States-published Archives and the Public Good is a collection of articles and case studies by a host of international expert archivists, designed to be used as a teaching tool in universities around the world.

In the book's introduction, co-editor David Wallace said records were essential sources of evidence and information that provide the glue that held together, and sometimes the agent that unravels organisations, governments, communities and societies.

The book rates the Heiner affair among shredding scandals such as the destruction of public records by the South African state in the final years of Apartheid and the destruction of records on Nazi war criminals in Canada.

Journalist Bruce Grundy, who has worked on the case for more than 10 years, said: "It sets the shredding of these documents in the context of some of the most outrageous document-shredding scandals of the 20th century."

The Heiner affair began more than a decade ago when an inquiry by retired magistrate Noel Heiner raised allegations of child abuse in the John Oxley Youth Centre (JOYC).

The inquiry was later shut down by the Goss Labor government, which ordered all documents regarding the case be destroyed.

The book alleges that the documents were shredded to cover up abuses by politicians, bureaucrats, staff and union officials and to prevent legal action that might have resulted.

"It will obviously be ignored as much as possible in Queensland, but it won't be ignored in other places," Mr Grundy said.

Former union official Kevin Lindeberg, a central figure in the affair, said: "The cover-up has put our so called "Smart State" into the category of a rogue state on the world stage of public record keeping and the right to a fair trial.

"What an indictment!"

Queensland One Nation Senator Len Harris said the affairs implicated the Beattie government, which contained ministers who were in the Cabinet room when the shredding decision had been taken.

"They knew the circumstances through which the documents had arisen and against the best interest of the public they chose to order the shredding," he said.

Mr Lindeberg also praised the role of Bruce Grundy, former editor of The Weekend Independent, for publicising the Heiner affair.

"The role of The Weekend Independent and its editor Bruce Grundy in dragging the truth out of government over the years is now showing that the shredding aided in covering up known child abuse at the centre," he said "It has been independently acclaimed by this internationally important book.

"It is most fitting."

Mr Grundy said watchdogs and the authorities still continue to try to sweep the affair under the carpet.

"But they won't get away with it forever," Mr Grundy said.


ACCC seeks advice

By Bruce Grundy

AUSTRALIA'S powerful consumer watchdog, the Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has taken legal advice to determine its power "to take action against the Crown Solicitor of Queensland" over the destruction of documents gathered by an inquiry into a children's detention centre in Brisbane 13 years ago.

The action of the commission follows its recent interest in a case in Victoria in which a tobacco company being sued for damages by a cancer victim had destroyed documents relevant to the woman's claim.

At the time the ACCC was reported as saying it would investigate whether the company or a prominent legal firm involved in the destruction process had breached the Trade Practices Act through misleading, deceptive or unconscionable conduct.

The Queensland Independent believes a senior officer of the commission recently flew to Brisbane to examine records connected with the Goss Labor government's controversial destruction of the Heiner Inquiry documents in 1990.

Following that visit, the commission sought legal advice as to whether its misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct powers were triggered by the actions of the Queensland authorities at the time.

In correspondence seen by TQI, the commission said it had "acquired legal advice regarding the commission's jurisdiction to take action against the Crown Solicitor of Queensland" over "their involvement in the destruction of the Heiner documents".

The commission said it had been advised that "although Crown Law may act as an independent body from the government now, it is highly likely that this was not the situation in 1990".

Most government departments, the commission was advised, had "only moved to a 'user pays' system in recent years" and therefore it was likely that at the time the Queensland Crown Solicitor was "not acting as an autonomous body".

At the time of the destruction, the government and the Office of Crown Law were aware of the likelihood of legal action being taken in connection with the Heiner Inquiry documents.

The ACCC determined that on the basis of its legal advice it was "unable to take any action against the Crown Solicitor for their involvement in the destruction of the Heiner documents".

In June, TQI revealed a former inmate of the youth centre concerned had lodged a statement in the Supreme Court claiming damages against the state of Queensland for negligence and unconscionable conduct in connection with an alleged rape.

Earlier this year, a former staff member at the centre said he had been questioned by the Heiner Inquiry about the rape of a 14-year-old girl.

He also said staff had been advised by a superior officer not to talk about the incident involving the girl.

Bruce Grundy is a Journalist in Residence at the University of Queensland


These articles appeared in the September 2002 edition of The Queensland Independent - School of Journalism and Communications newspaper at the University of Queensland (

These articles are located on

Brian Martin's website on suppression of dissent

in the section on Documents

relating to the shredding of the Heiner documents

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