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The Politics of Paedophilia

Rudd Plays Politics with Paedophilia

The Labor Foreign Affairs Spokesman's first media release since he draped himself in the American flag in early December is a disappointing attempt to play politics with paedophilia.

Labor's Kevin Rudd might be best advised to address his questions to his former colleagues Bill Hayden, Gareth Evans and Michael Costello.

William Brown, the former embassy officer arrested in relation to paedophilia allegations in Indonesia last week, was withdrawn from his Jakarta post in 1984 under a Labor Government when Bill Hayden was Foreign Affairs Minister. He continued in the public sector until 1995 under Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and during a period when Michael Costello (former Chief of Staff to Kim Beazley) was Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

By the time I came to Government and became Foreign Minister, in 1996, William Brown was no longer employed by the Government.

Within two months of becoming Minister, in response to disturbing allegations, I ordered an independent investigation into allegations of paedophilia in my department.

At this time all allegations and documents were also forwarded to the Australian Federal Police for investigation. The AFP is the appropriate authority to investigate and take action on such matters. The AFP has viewed William Brown as a "person of interest" since then.

My course of action also led to the implementation of new public sector codes of conduct to ensure any future allegations would be immediately referred to the AFP.

In the meantime, in the absence of any charges or substantiated allegations of illegal behaviour, it was not appropriate to cancel William Brown's passport. This accords with the previous Labor Governments' practice in issuing passports (including two Official passports) to William Brown on four separate occasions.

This disturbing issue of paedophilia was one I inherited from the Hawke/Keating Labor Governments - a fact I have not sought to highlight until Mr Rudd's politicking today. On coming to office the Liberal Government tackled the issue and made it clear such behaviour would simply not be tolerated.

William Brown now deserves a fair hearing before the Indonesian justice system and, as an Australian citizen, is entitled to normal consular assistance. But Australian authorities also will assist the investigations of the Indonesian authorities.

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