Business of Joint Committee (Resumed)

We are now in public session. The first item I want to deal with relates to correspondence received from Rachel Downes, chief executive officer (acting) of Caranua, who is calling for alleged defamatory and untrue remarks by a member to be withdrawn. The correspondence states that the complaint relates to contributions made by Senator Paul Gavan in the course of the committee meeting of 15 November 2018. In her letter Ms Downes is requesting that those remarks are publicly withdrawn by Senator Paul Gavan and that she receive a public apology for the false and defamatory allegations made against her. I have examined the relevant portion of the transcript from the meeting and the remarks noted by myself at that time also and, having given the matter consideration, I am of the opinion that Ms Downes’s request is reasonable. Therefore, I am going to call on Senator Gavan to withdraw the utterance without qualification. We have discussed the issue with Senator Gavan prior to this meeting.

Thank you. Last week I received information about an incident involving a client of Caranua that was of sufficient concern that I believed it should be raised within the committee meeting with the Department. While I believe the matter should be further investigated in terms of what took place that day, I am not in a position to state that it was the CEO who was involved. Therefore, I withdraw my comments of last week with regard to the CEO and I apologise unreservedly.

Thank you Senator. I advise members that the clerk has drafted a letter to Ms Downes and Senator Gavan has agreed to the letter that will be sent on behalf of the committee acknowledging that the comments should not have been made and that Senator Gavan has issued a public apology.

I propose we suspend briefly to allow witnesses to take their seats for the engagement on the uptake of apprenticeships and traineeships.

Sitting suspended at 3.59 p.m. and resumed at 4 p.m.