Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:17): My question is for the Attorney-General. Prior to the 30 June deadline for organisations to sign up to the national redress scheme, the Attorney-General said, and I quote, it is ‘just not acceptable’ that institutions do not sign up:
We will be making it a condition of contracts with the Victorian Government that institutions that have got a liability when it comes to institutional sexual abuse join the redress scheme.
Ms Hennessy said funding was in jeopardy, including grants and funding to deliver social or other services. To date, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisations, which have over 1800 accusations of sexual abuse against them, have not signed up to the scheme. Has the Victorian government stopped all funding to Jehovah’s Witnesses related organisations, and if not, why not?
Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (11:18): I thank Ms Patten for her question and her ongoing interest and commitment to this area. I will refer the matter to the Attorney-General in relation to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (11:18): Thank you, Minister. As a way of a supplementary, as I have previously brought this to the attention of the house over the last few months and years, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisations have gone to great lengths to sell assets, restructure their business and charitable activities, consolidate their property portfolio and send vast amounts of cash overseas, all in an effort to reduce their exposure to claims against them of sexual abuse. There are now 155 registered Jehovah’s Witnesses organisations in Victoria. Will the government now strip them of the tax benefits they receive?
Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (11:19): Again I thank Ms Patten for her question, and consistent with my referral of the substantive, the supplementary will also be referred to the Attorney-General.