12 October 2022

'Insulted and diminished' grieving parents solicit apology from Chief Minister

| Lottie Twyford
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Matthew McLuckie, Lachlan Seary and Blake Corney

Road victims Matthew McLuckie, Lachlan Seary and Blake Corney. Photo: Supplied.

Aged 20, 19 and four.

That’s how young Matthew McLuckie, Lachlan Seary and Blake Corney were when they were killed on the Territory’s roads.

None were at fault.

Matthew was on his way home from work when he was hit by a speeding car travelling the wrong way on Hindmarsh Drive.

Lachlan had been the designated driver for his friends on a night out. He’d just dropped them off and was on the way home when a drunk, drugged and speeding driver travelling at 150 kilometres an hour on the Monaro Highway hit his vehicle.

It’s believed he would have died instantly after his car left the road and slammed into a tree.

Blake was in the back of his parent’s car – which was stopped at an intersection – on their way to a toy shop when a truck driver crashed into the back of their car in 2018.

Blake Corney's father Andrew, Opposition spokesperson for police Jeremy Hanson, Lachlan Seary's mother Janice and Matthew McLuckie's dad Tom

Blake Corney’s father Andrew, Opposition spokesperson for police Jeremy Hanson, Lachlan Seary’s mother Janice and Matthew McLuckie’s dad Tom. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

Their parents are now bonded together by the one thing no parent should ever have to experience – burying a child.

“I can speak as a parent. When you’ve seen the inside of your son’s own skull and worn his brains all over you, that’s not a happy experience,” Blake’s dad Andrew Corney said yesterday.

McLuckie family

Sarah Payne married Tom McLuckie and became Matthew (left) and Joe’s stepmother in 2014. Photo: Supplied.

All three families are now calling for change on the ACT’s roads, and most recently, for a broad review of bail and sentencing outcomes led by Matthew’s father Tom McLuckie.

That campaign garnered incredible amounts of community support.

But the Territory government has remained steadfast in its view that sort of review is not necessary, despite growing pressure from victims, the police union and the Opposition.

Yesterday, Matthew’s father Tom, Lachlan’s mother Janice and Blake’s father Andrew all attended the ACT Legislative Assembly as petitions launched by Mr McLuckie were tabled before a no-confidence motion was moved in Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury.

Shane Rattenbury

Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury yesterday faced and survived a no-confidence motion. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

When they left the chamber, those victims were angry, and not just with the government’s refusal to commit to an independent review of bail and sentences. They were angry with Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who had not even acknowledged their presence in the room.

Tom McLuckie and his wife Sarah Payne took to Facebook last night, with Tom saying all of those present had felt “insulted and diminished” by this lack of acknowledgement.

“We plebs should know our place [and not] to question the almighty and feel his wrath,” he said.

READ ALSO ‘You don’t fix the roof on a rainy day’: Liberals slam road maintenance as pothole problem deepens

Ms Payne said she had sat listening and crying to other politicians as they gave their condolences to the victims present.

“When it was time for Andrew Barr, our Chief Minister, and therefore leader of all those in the room to speak, he ignored us entirely,” she wrote.

“He stood with his back turned to us (something that no other member did when speaking), and not once … did he go anywhere near acknowledging that he was in a room with people whose lives have been torn apart by vehicular crime during his time as leader of the ACT Government.”

Ms Payne said all had been crying after they left the room and she had been “shaking with distress”.

Andrew Barr in the Legislative Assembly

Chief Minister Andrew Barr apologised for failing to acknowledge victims of crime in the ACT Legislative Assembly yesterday. Photo: Region.

In a statement issued this morning (12 October), a spokesperson for Mr Barr said he had spoken respectfully and members were required to address the Speaker when speaking in the chamber.

“The Chief Minister’s speech canvassed the seriousness of the policy issues being considered, acknowledged the diversity of views held in the community, and sought to find some common ground,” the spokesperson said.

This afternoon, Mr Barr changed his tune and in Question Time apologised to families, acknowledging his mistake.

“I made a mistake in not explicitly acknowledging [their] presence … in the chamber,” Mr Barr said.

“I unreservedly apologise and I will seek to learn from that mistake.”

READ ALSO ‘We’re listening to you’: Rattenbury responds to grieving parents but wholesale sentencing, bail review a no-go

Mr Barr was asked whether he would meet with the families, but he said today he understood that was not their wish.

“I [also] acknowledge the irreconcilable differences in the outcomes being sought through the petitions [and my views],” he said.

“I have an in-principle objection to mandatory sentencing and the US-style appointment of judicial officers. I would not seek to sack the Attorney-General in the terms requested yesterday.”

Mr Barr said yesterday afternoon’s debate “set a pathway forwards” for ministers to continue with the work they had already commenced.

Tom McLuckie’s petition was sponsored by Opposition spokesperson for police Jeremy Hanson. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Opposition spokesperson for police Jeremy Hanson yesterday afternoon once again tried to move a motion calling on the government to commit to the independent review.

It was amended by the government to remove that clause and instead call on the government to progress work and potential reforms in these areas in an “evidence-based way”.

READ ALSO Three schools offer extra counselling after multiple holiday road fatalities

Labor backbencher Marisa Paterson supported the government’s amendments to the motion despite having previously spoken in support of a review.

Mr McLuckie said yesterday he could not understand the government’s stubborn refusal to commit to this review.

“If there’s nothing to see the review will prove that and we will go away,” he said.

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Mike of Canberra5:40 pm 14 Oct 22

As a regular reader of the Riot Act, I’ve become pretty familiar with the various Barr lackies who inhabit this site. They’re not here to make constructive, reasoned contributions to discussions of important issues. Rather, their main purpose in life appears to be to troll anyone who dares criticise Barr, Rattenbury, or anyone else from this tired old time-serving ACT Government. Jack D is appalled that Tom McLuckie and other grieving parents somehow are being disrespectful towards the Chief Minister et al. He also says that he can’t begin to understand their grief. Jack, your comment tells me any such understanding will always be subsumed by your desire to justify the unjustifiable. Somehow, you even believe a parent’s grief-driven anger towards a non-performing Chief Minister and his government is somehow slanderous and disgraceful. Shame on Tom McLuckie Jack? Shame on you more likely. Similarly with Erin Taylor, who can only see this whole matter through the lens of being for or against Barr and his cronies. This is what Barr and company have reduced us to. Well, Jack and Erin, I suggest you have a good, hard look at yourselves – if that’s possible.

Tom McLuckie1:35 pm 14 Oct 22

I’m pretty sure Erin as a Head of a Languages department, a teacher and being multi- lingual and juggling all the demands that come with it the answer to that question is yes. And before the same question for me the answer is yes too. Maybe when you have a prolonged career and actually had a tough job then you can be able to answer that in the affirmative too. Tough jobs come with remuneration and expectations.

I read your reply in response to ErolJ below Tom McLuckie. As a parent I can’t begin to understand your grief. However, you and your new friends from the Canberra Liberals have made this a partison issue. 99 percent of comments I have read on Facebook and media are insulting and disgraceful. These insults read like comments from a Young Liberals’ Facebook page. The ACT parliament debated this issue only a few days ago. That is democracy! Despite the result, you and your supporters continue to make slanderous and insulting comments against the Chief Minister and his elected government. Shame on you!!

Tom McLuckie1:25 pm 14 Oct 22

You understand the definition of slander? It would imply a falsehood involved. The CM has advised I want minimum mandatory sentencing. That is false. He also advised I want a US based appointment process. That is false too. If he had read the petitions he would understand that. The AG inferred I want to have everyone locked up and no bail considerations. That too is false. Asking for a measured review of bail and sentencing while we have systemic issues with bail breach and recidivism is not an ultra conservative approach. If anyone was slander Jack D it was me.

I think you should step back Tom McLuckie. Take stock and reflect. The commentary I see from you and your supporters in media and social media is slanderous and disgraceful. Not to mention the language coming from your new and vigoured friends in the Canberra Liberals and their Young Liberal enablers. Measured and considered commentary, I think not. All this hot air and enablement from media and your supporters in the knowledge that the government has little room to respond!

Andrew Barr has form with this sort of thing. In about 2017, the late Mr Doszpot brought a motion concerning an ex gratia payment to the family of Jack Hartigan, who was badly mauled by a dog on public housing premises. The Hartigan family including, as I recall, young Jack, were in the chamber for the duration of the speeches on the motion. Mr Barr stood to speak against the motion and throughout his entire addrress he never once looked at the Hartigans in the gallery, in fact, had his back turned to them the whole time. This nonsense excuse of being required to address the Speaker rather than the chamber is specious in the extreme. At hardly any other time does he address the Speaker exclusively, as he did that day, and seems to have done in another case more recently. If he can’t summon a modicum of respect for his fellow Assembly members – and he mostly can’t, treating the Opposition with contempt and superciliousness – he should at least try to display a modicum of respect for the people in the gallery. They are, after all, constituents and voters and surely Barr, if only out of electoral self-preservation should be careful of the attitude he takes to people who will inevitably remember his unpleasant behaviour at election time.

I agree 150%. They have become arrogant, lazy, unresponsive to community needs. They have been in Government far too long. Far too long. I’ve always voted Labor due to the quality and policies of their opponents but not next time. And this includes their political bedfellows the Greens. I had high hopes when I voted for them at the last election, but like their sacked Federal LNP fellows they have been in far too long, lazy and unrepresentative of their constituents.

I wonder what it took for Barr to acknowledge his disgusting behaviour. But apology or not it was too late. Goodbye Mr Barr.

Tom McLuckie9:56 pm 13 Oct 22

It was only because he was asked the question during Question Time, and then he exposed his ignorance and indifference by not actually understanding or having appeared to have read our petitions. An apology followed by an accusation of some accusations of right wing approaches when all I have ever asked for is an independent review. What an excuse of a politician. I marched in the Anti Fascist league in the UK, protested at the Poll Tax demonstrations, was the employee rep and Unison member in our privatised Electricity Industry and her I have this man trying to paint me as some right wing person. READ my petitions. I’m asking for the most measured approach yet he is politicians trying to make me and my supporters as some right wing vigilantes. Not my Chief.

My sympathies are with the victims and with the police who have been trying valiantly to shut down speedsters, runners from the police and bail breakers. The ACT system definitely needs to be investigated and if magistrates are not willing to provide sentences which reflect community expectations, then mandatory sentences need to be examined despite Barr’s refusal to countenance this. Definitely Barr and Rattenbury need to go but there is no one game enough to take them on. Canberra must also look at voting in a minor party and/or a number of Independents who would take the balance of power away from the Greens who are Green in name only. I am sorry to see that Marisa Patterson seems to have been bullied and/or intimidated into backing off supporting the review. She really needs to run as an Independent.

Frederick Burman4:28 pm 13 Oct 22

No chance that Rattenbury would be sacked. Barr needs the greens vote.

Once supported this gaggle of ratbags but not now. The Autocracy of Barr. The idea that he had to have his lack of empathy pointed out to him reeks of Scott Morrison. Politicians represent the views of the electorate not their own prejudiced judgements. What are they afraid of? Capital Retro might be right. A federal Victorian Liberal Senator voted against territories being able to legislate for euthanasia four years ago says her father’s death has changed her mind on the practice. Is this what it will take to motivate the Local Council.

Condolences to all the victims. Victims of crime have been advocating for change to the judicial system for years; one must only remember Clea Rose and her family. If more could be done on prevention; zero tolerance to anti-social driving like burnouts results in confiscation like other states for example. How often is anti-social driving a precursor to these senseless road fatalities?

For God’s sake, Libs, make yourselves electable! Sweep away the lingering Seselja stench and become a viable alternative government. So many of us are sick to the back teeth of Barr and his band of tossers and are just waiting to bin them.

Their arrogance, incompetence and sheer stupidity are plain for us all to see each day. Rattenbury, Berry, Steel, Vasarotti (she’s an appalling environment minister), Stephen-Smith et al. Each name conjures up images of utter ineptitude. It’s time they were all gone.

Mike McGettrick7:20 pm 13 Oct 22

Well said.

54-11 – I assume from your comment that, because the Canberra Liberals are “unelectable”, you voted for Barr, Berry and Rattenbury?

Time for Barr to stand aside, he doesn’t seem to care about much anymore. Nor does anyone in this Government

Mike McGettrick1:21 pm 13 Oct 22

Sweep all these issues under the carpet Mr Barr! Soon you will run out of carpet!

Capital Retro12:28 pm 13 Oct 22

I may be wrong but about 30 years ago, didn’t the son of a high standing member of the judiciary get roughed up by a bouncer (crowd-controller if you insist) at a Canberra night club?

The father was outraged so much he used his connections to have the industry regulated very quickly.

Wait until some family member of our un-feeling government gets killed by a juvenile delinquent out on bail – there will be plenty of action then.

HiddenDragon9:17 pm 12 Oct 22

“I have an in-principle objection to mandatory sentencing and the US-style appointment of judicial officers.”

The usual student politician-style rhetoric – there’s no middle ground, no nuance, no scope for genuine negotiation and compromise – it’s just a binary choice between the rainbows and unicorns daydreams and mirages of the ACT government and the claimed alternative of a Trump on steroids, Gilead on the Molonglo dystopia.

Tom McLuckie10:05 pm 13 Oct 22

He hasn’t read the petitions. I’m not asking for minimum mandatory Sentencing or a US appointment system – just a measured, investigate review. Seems our Government has something to hide.

William Newby9:11 pm 12 Oct 22

I support the current Gov and their decisions on most matters, however in this instance I think that Rattenbury and Barr have things seriously wrong.

To firmly stand against a review is to say there is nothing wrong.

These two need to go.

Strange to not see Jack D with a comment on here defending the ACT Gubmint or muddying the waters…

Surely it’s that Barr is misunderstood (not cold and uncaring) or that Barr does really care but can’t preempt or criticise (his tightly controlled) govt… listen into Chief Minster talkback where the ACT ABC gives Barr softserve underarm questions to spin his way thru.

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