Commissioner Bruce Lander yesterday revealed he will publish the findings of his maladministration investigation into the disgraced Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service before the end of the month – just weeks before the state election.
In a statement released yesterday, he said the inquiry had been held up by objections from three individuals with an interest in its outcomes, who argued he could not legally publish their names without their consent.
Lander concluded, however, that he did have legal grounds to name them without consent and the three subsequently abandoned their objections, declining to contest the matter in the Supreme Court.
Now, the Liberal Party wants the Government to declare whether any Labor MP, minister or former minister was among the three people who tried to suppress their identity from the final report.
“The bombshell in yesterday’s announcement is the fact that three people have tried to keep their identity secret,” Deputy Liberal Leader Vickie Chapman told ABC radio this morning,
“We know that two senior ministers, former ministers of the Government, were involved in this scandalous episode and obviously we want the Premier (Jay Weatherill) to come clean as to whether any of his MPs or former ministers or indeed current ministers were the applicants at the Supreme Court, because the direct effect of this action has been to delay the conclusion and ultimate determination.”
She said the State Government had been “about as transparent as the Berlin Wall” on the subject.
“The Premier really is the only person who can come clean on this and we must have this out – and the public have to make a decision.”
In a short statement, Weatherill did not say whether any of his MPs or former or current ministers were among the three.
“As Mr Lander’s statement makes clear, he will be publicly releasing his report later this month,” it reads.
“We welcome that decision and look forward to receiving his findings and recommendations.”
In May 2017, Lander announced he would undertake an investigation into potential serious or systematic maladministration regarding the Oakden facility, which the State Government shut down after a report by then-Chief Psychiatrist Dr Aaron Groves found patients had been routinely mistreated there.
SA Best Leader Nick Xenophon told reporters today that: “The Premier should ‘fess up on the Oakden scandal.”
But he did not say specifically whether or not the Government should reveal whether one of its former or current MPs tried to have her or his name suppressed.
“Oakden is symbolic of the Government’s failures on so many fronts,” said Xenophon.
“The fact that ICAC had to hold these hearings in secret is a failure on the part of the Weatherill Government.”
Asked by InDaily whether he would keep his promise to run SA Best candidates in all state seats whose MP voted against giving the ICAC the power to hold Oakden hearings in public, Xenophon told reporters: “We’re doing our best in relation to that but it’s a resources issue as well.”
“We have tried to get a candidate in (Local Government Minister Geoff Brock’s seat of) Frome but we still aren’t there yet.”
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