Hockey, Shorten join forces in royal commission snub

FEDERAL and state governments have poured cold water on holding a royal commission into child abuse, despite growing calls for one at a state inquiry.

Labor and Liberal frontbenchers Bill Shorten and Joe Hockey questioned the potential effectiveness of a national investigation into child abuse on Friday.

Mr Shorten, the Employment Minister, said organisations should be required to report abuse to police and those involved in covering it up should be exposed, but told 3AW he was ''not convinced that having a royal commission is going to fix the faults''.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said it would be ''ridiculous'' to have a royal commission into the Catholic Church, and that sexual abuse was much broader than the church.

Mr Hockey, a Catholic, said a royal commission would further ''traumatise'' victims. ''I have friends who have been victims … What they want to see is for it to stop and for the wounds to heal,'' he said.

Premier Ted Baillieu said: ''We believe the parliamentary inquiry has already demonstrated its value.''

Their comments came before New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell announced that his state would launch an inquiry into a senior police investigator's allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy in the Hunter region.

Most witnesses who have testified at Victoria's inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations - child abuse researchers Monash University professor Chris Goddard and University of Sydney law professor Patrick Parkinson are among those who gave evidence - have endorsed calls for a royal commission. The inquiry was called in April after years of campaigning by victims' advocates.

The inquiry's chairwoman, Georgie Crozier, has said the six-member committee enjoys all the powers of a royal commission, but victims groups have long criticised it as inadequately resourced to handle the widespread problem.

Broken Rites' Dr Wayne Chamley, who testified on Friday, said the victims' group had supported calls for a national commission for 16 years ''because this crosses borders, it doesn't stop at the Murray. You've got to bring and put under oath all the bishops and archbishops and former bishops and all the vicars-general and ask what was going on.''

The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, said a judicial inquiry or royal commission would have dealt with the issue better than a parliamentary inquiry. ''There is a very strong need for victims to feel heard,'' he said

With Dan Harrison, Barney Zwartz and Vince Chadwick

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