Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said the royal commission on child sex abuse will continue for as “as long as it takes’’ - amid predictions that the inquiry could last for up to a decade.
Ms Gillard told reporters in Perth on Tuesday that she was not going to ''wargame'' a timeframe for the inquiry.
The Prime Minister said that the royal commission, announced yesterday, could last for ‘‘an extensive period of time’’.
‘‘We should not set artificial limits on getting this done properly.’’
Earlier today, Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon predicted that the royal commission on child sex abuse would be a ‘‘big and slow moving beast’’ and could take 10 years.
‘‘Make no mistake it will cause trauma for many individuals and organisations,’’ he told ABC Radio.
The terms of reference are due by the end of this year.
Ms Gillard said on Tuesday that Attorney-General Nicola Roxon had begun talking to her state counterparts and that acting Families Minister Brendan O’Connor and the public service had started discussions with support groups and victims.
She added that her chief of staff, Ben Hubbard, was in contact with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s office.
‘‘We will reach out in time to other parliamentarians,’’ she said.
Ms Gillard said there was also an email address (see below) through her department where people could register their interest in the royal commission.
‘‘What we’ve got to do here is get the terms of reference right,’’ she said.
This comes as Jack Rush QC warned that the royal commission should be conducted quickly but that it could take a long time if it covered every state.
Mr Rush, who was the senior counsel assisting the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission, said if the inquiry was too broad it could become unmanageable.
"The terms of reference need to be wide enough to ensure that the conduct that is being sought to be investigated can be investigated," he said.
"But at the same time, it’s very important in a royal commission that things are done quickly.''
Independent senator Nick Xenophon said a deadline of two years should be imposed on the nation-wide inquiry into child sex abuse in churches, charities, state governments, schools, community organisations and the police.
Senator Xenophon said the inquiry was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get it right, provided it has the appropriate resources.
''It can’t drag on for nine or 10 years as the Irish commission of inquiry did,’’ he told ABC TV on Tuesday. ’’A two-year time frame seems appropriate.’’
In Brisbane, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he was not concerned that the royal commission could double up with other inquiries under way in Victoria and New South Wales.
''The most important thing is that thousands, tens of thousands of people, who have not been as well cared for as they should have been, who have been badly let down by people in authority over the years, will feel that their heartfelt cries for justice have at least been heard,’’ Mr Abbott said.
''This can be a time of healing for our country and I very much support what’s being done.’’
- People who want to be kept advised on the establishment of the royal commission or who would like their details passed on to the secretariat can either telephone the national call centre on 1800 099 340 or email the email@example.com
With Bianca Hall, AAP