Greens senator David Shoebridge has interrogated Home Affairs officials as to why they did not immediately act after being told one of their senior employees was under investigation for historical child-sex offences.

Convicted sex abuser Stephen Mitchell was charged with a string of child sex offences while working in Australia’s embassy in Indonesia.

After being notified in September 2021, Home Affairs allowed Mr Mitchell to continue working as a strategic intelligence analyst until mid-February 2022.

In a heated exchange on Monday Senator Shoebridge asked why Mr Mitchell still had access to the embassy’s compound long after officials were notified he had been accused of crimes of a sexual nature.

“Are you telling me that the AFP commences an investigation with you about a senior official working in the Jakarta embassy, and you don’t make inquiries about the nature of the investigation?” he quizzed.

“We were aware of some very broad allegations and at that stage, there was no evidence upon to which we would take action,” Home Affairs deputy secretary Justine Saunders responded.

Mr Shoebridge, furious, asked why they didn’t inquire “immediately”.

“You’re telling me that AFP contacted Home Affairs about an investigation and didn’t know the nature of the investigation when you contacted me?” he fired back.

Ms Saunders said from her understanding there were “broad allegations of a sexual nature that were historical in their form”.

Visibly annoyed, Senator Shoebridge questioned why “broader protective measures” weren’t taken by Home Affairs knowing Mr Mitchell had been accused of multiple sexual offences.

“Sorry, Home Affairs is surely aware of its obligations to ensure children of staff, children in the embassy, are kept safe. Are you aware of that obligation?” he said.

“Child safety is not something you can put aside with a half-baked request like that.”


Source link

By Rahul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *