Australia

Labor to review disability royal commission appointments over conflict of interest claims

Labor frontbencher, Linda Burney, has been appointed Shadow Minister of Preventing Family Violence. Source: AAP

Labor has indicated it would move to remove two commissioners appointed to the disability inquiry if elected.

Two former public servants could be removed from the disability royal commission if Labor is elected next month, citing "serious concerns" about conflict of interest.

Labor has pledged to review the appointments of John Ryan and Barbara Bennett over a potential conflict of interest stemming from their previous work in the sector.  

Labor's Social Services spokesperson Linda Burney said she was acutely aware of the "serious concerns" raised by dozens of activists and disability organisations.

"It’s hard to see how the commissioners can stay in the role if they don’t have the confidence of the sector," she said. 

"We have to get this royal commission right – If Labor is successful at the election, we will review the membership of the Royal Commission, if the government doesn’t act."

Labor MP Linda Burney is calling on her party to endorse the idea of a public holiday for Indigenous people.
Labor MP Linda Burney has pledged to review the appointments of two former public servants to the royal commission.
AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison officially launched the $527 million inquiry earlier this month, which will examine abuse and neglect in all settings. 

He announced six commissioners including Mr Ryan, who oversaw the closure of large residential institutions in NSW in 2013 and moving people with disabilities into smaller group homes. 

Ms Bennett is a former deputy secretary of the federal Department of Social Services which is responsible for the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

Last week, more than 50 organisations involved in the disability sector wrote to the social services minister outlining their concerns that their members were uncomfortable in participating in the royal commission with Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett involved. 

Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, who was instrumental in getting parliamentary approval for the royal commission, has also called for the removal of the two public servants. 

The government is standing by the appointments. 

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