Queensland Leader of the Opposition Deb Frecklington speaks on the opening day of the 56th Queensland Parliament in Brisbane, Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
Queensland Leader of the Opposition Deb Frecklington speaks on the opening day of the 56th Queensland Parliament in Brisbane, Tuesday, February 13, 2018. AAP Image - Dan Peled

Regional kids at risk over Blue Card: LNP

THE Palaszczuk Government has been accused of putting regional Queensland children at risk by not closing a loophole in the Blue Card system.

In November, the Bulletin revealed more than 5000 people were working with children without a Blue Card due to a loophole allowing them to start employment while their application was assessed.

Opposition Leader Deb Freckling said the State Government was "too slow" to introduce "no card, no start" legislation.

"The LNP stands ready to work with Labor to immediately modernise the Blue Card application process to close this loophole," she said.

Ms Frecklington said she was "disturbed" by a case in Townsville last year when a teachers' aide working without a Blue Card exposed himself to children.

"A week after the incident Kate Jones told Queenslanders she would fix this problem and now, just like so many of Labor's promises, nothing has been done," she said.

A spokesman said the Queensland Government was committed to making the Blue Card system "even more rigorous".

"Thorough consultation takes time and we will engage with a range of stakeholders to ensure we get this right," he said. "This will help ensure avoid unintended consequences that need to be worked through as well as significant changes to the way applications are processed."

The spokesman said the government takes safety of Queensland's children "extremely seriously".

"Continuous improvement is our goal - keeping our kids safe, and helping people who work with children across our state to access meaningful jobs," he said.

Ms Frecklington also criticised a proposal by Katter's Australian Party to "relax" Blue Card standards in regional areas calling it a "reckless policy."

"The answer to protecting children in remote and indigenous communities should never be to lower Blue Card standards," she said.

KAP state leader Robbie Katter said his policy had come from direct consultation with indigenous leaders.

"We're talking communities with less than 2000 people where the majority of jobs require a Blue Card ... the decision to yay or nay to an application should be given to a local justice group with input from a magistrate and police," he said. "It would only apply to people who did not have a history of disqualifying offences and would only enable them to work in that one place."

Mr Katter said the Blue Card issues in cities and regional centres like Townsville were "vastly different" to rural and remote locations.

"Everyone loves to wave their credentials around when it comes to indigenous communities but I'm actually listening to what they've asked for," he said.



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