Today, I place on the record my sincere sympathies to the family of the woman whose death, and allegations surrounding her death, was raised in the parliament by the member for Hurtle Vale yesterday, and the circumstances of her history being thrown into the media spotlight. I say that because there have been further questions raised today and allegations made by the member for West Torrens and the member for Hurtle Vale in relation to the alleged reliability of statements that have been made to the media on behalf of the family yesterday.
It is tragic enough that they might lose their sister or other family relationship, but I feel deeply saddened that it was thrown into the public arena. I have an email, which I place on the record, from the Department of Human Services, making it abundantly clear what occurred. It was sent, I think, at 5.37pm on 17 June, and states:
To clarify my earlier emails, I have double checked with the Accommodation Services director who spoke to the family and these are their words on the record:
- We are grateful for the care that our sister received.
- We have no concerns with staff at the home and do not want them to be blamed for her death.
- We do not wish for this to be a matter of media interest.
That concludes the transmission on that matter. I also raise for the record my concern that the member for Hurtle Vale has persisted again today in making allegations as to the origin of this material. I do note, and I am concerned to note, that apparently a statement—purportedly a comment of the Hon. Kelly Vincent which had been posted online and addressed to the member for Hurtle Vale—stated:
You are being deliberately misleading for point scoring. This family did not want to be in the media and you know that. You are profiting from grief and it's disgusting.
I do not make an assertion as to the accuracy of these matters, but I make the point that it has disappeared from being online. I think it is incumbent upon the member for Hurtle Vale to remember that she is a member of the parliament and she has responsibilities. We have a great privilege in this house to be able to make statements to protect the interests of our constituents and to have free and frank disclosure of matters, but we have a statement of principles—which is like our MPs code of conduct—which requires us to also be cognisant of making statements under privilege in this house.
I think it was bad enough that the member saw fit to name this person yesterday without having identified the basis upon which it was necessary to do so. I think that was perhaps ill-advised or a circumstance for which she might be forgiven if she was new in the parliament, but she must understand—I think all members need to understand—the sensitivity of these matters and that we need to respect our constituents.
Certainly, by all means bring issues of importance to the parliament, but it has got to a stage where there are allegations being made and a family has been drawn into and trapped in a sick political stunt, and that is not acceptable, and it should not be acceptable for anyone in the parliament. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to ensure that he at least provides some counsel for the member for Hurtle Vale if she does not want to listen to me, about the importance of maintaining the dignity and respect of families who are in grief.