Image of a microphone at a lectern in a formal inquiry chamber

Bill Shorten MP, Shadow Minister for the NDIS and former Opposition Leader, has reiterated the disability sector’s calls for two disability royal commissioners to be stood down due to a “recent, extensive and significant” conflict of interest.

Speaking to Guardian Australia last week, Mr Shorten outlined the ALP's position.

“The call for these people to go has echoed across the disability sector – and we [The ALP] support their view,” 

Meanwhile, Greens Senator Jordan Steele-John has likewise advocated for the two commissioners in question, Mr John Ryan and Ms Barbara Bennett, to be stood down, citing their previous executive roles in NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) and the NDIS as clear conflicts of interest. According to SBS News, Senator Steele-John has further accused Mr Ryan of intimidation and attempting to silence his opponents, including himself.  

In relation to two emails sent by Mr Ryan this week, which point to the Commissioner having “considerable grounds to take legal action against [Senator Steele-John] for comments published on TV and republished by you on social media”, Senator Steele-John said

“Everybody knows when you put those words in an email then what you're trying to do is shut them up and shut them down and that's not the attitude we need here.” 

The government continues to resist pressure from the disability sector to stand down the commissioners in question, with Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert MP, asserting that the pair were well qualified for their roles.

“Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett were appointed because they have valuable contributions to make to the inquiry,” he said.  

IDEAS Executive Officer, Diana Palmer, has previously reiterated the call from the sector for both Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett to stand aside due to their conflicts of interest.

“We support the call by the disability sector at large, that the two Royal Commissioners in question – Barbara Bennet and John Ryan – should step aside due to conflicts of interest, as people with disability need to be able to place trust in the Commissioners in order to come forward and tell their stories”. 

As pressure mounts for two of the six appointed commissioners to stand down, it remains to be seen if the validity of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse and Exploitation of People with Disability will be undermined and community expectations adversely affeected by a lack of trust in the judicial process and faith that a lack of bias from the Royal Commissioners appointed can be guaranteed. 

For more information on the Royal Commission Inquiry, or to make a submission, please go to disability.royalcommission.gov.au

Information sourced from Guardian Australia and SBS News