The ABC has apologised to New South Wales Minister for Families, Pru Goward, after she hung up when an interview turned to a damning report into the “ineffective” child protection system.
Ms Goward appeared on ABC Radio Canberra on Wednesday morning to promote a newly announced school in Murrumbateman in her electorate of Goulburn.
But she appeared to abruptly cut the interview short when she was asked about the embarrassing Tune report, released this week under pressure from parliament after its findings were kept secret for two years.
“I have to go, I am so sorry,” Ms Goward said when the conversation turned to the report.
She went on to answer two questions on the subject but hung up when the line of questioning from journalist Adam Shirley continued.
“No, no, this was the agreement and I have to go. See you later. Thank you very much. Bye bye,” she said before the dial tone went to air.
“That was Pru Goward there … hanging up on the end of that interview,” host Dan Bourchier said.
But Ms Goward had only agreed to a 10-minute interview and was on a tight schedule. She hung up at 13 minutes.
Mr Bourchier later apologised for mischaracterising the way the interview ended.
“Point of clarification on an interview with the NSW Minister @PruGoward this morning on @ABCCanberra with @AdammShirley. The Minister did not leave the interview because of questioning, but because of a time restraint,” he said on Twitter.
“My apologies for giving the wrong impression.”
There will also be a on-air apology on Thursday’s Breakfast show.
An ABC online article and tweet by Mr Bourchier were also removed earlier in the day.
During the interview, Ms Goward noted she was not the minister when the Tune report was delivered to cabinet in 2016.
“It was a decision made by a previous minister [Brad Hazzard] and of course it was written for cabinet.”
Point of clarification on an interview with NSW Minister @PruGoward this morning on @abccanberra with @adammshirley. The Minister did not leave the interview because of questioning, but because of a time restraint. My apologies for giving the wrong impression.
— Dan Bourchier (@Dan_Bourchier) June 13, 2018
She said it remained under wraps at the behest of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Gladys Berejiklian was not premier when the report was provided, but it has remained under wraps for the past two years.
“The report has been available to the cabinet since 2016. So this was written for the cabinet, and the premier’s department particularly gave very strong advice that we need to preserve the rights of the cabinet to have confidential information provided to it and for it to remain confidential.
“But I’m perfectly comfortable with it being released, we have done wonderful things in child protection as a result of that report and I think it’s a challenge to find areas where we have failed to act.”
The Tune report was released publicly on Tuesday after a censure motion threatened to expel the leader of the government in the upper house.
Outspoken Liberal backbencher Matthew Mason-Cox crossed the floor to support the opposition and crossbenchers to force the release of the report, along with other controversial documents.
The government insisted it was publishing the documents voluntarily.
The independent report by author David Tune found out-of-home care in NSW was “ineffective and sustainable”.
The number of children and young people in the system had doubled over 10 years and continues to increase, he said, despite numerous reports and a significant increase in government funding over a long period of time.
“Moreover, the system is failing to improve long-term outcomes for children and to arrest the devastating cycles of intergenerational abuse and neglect.”
Mr Tune said interventions were “not adequately evidence based”, often inflexible and didn’t recognise the specific concerns of vulnerable children and families.
Ms Berejiklian on Wednesday said she was “happy to revisit” the decision not to release the report, adding it was an important piece of work that had informed government policy.