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Child migrant and former Labor MP Mike Barnett said yesterday a royal commission into abuse in State care would deal with "unfinished business" after the move was scotched 16 years ago.

Amid growing claims that the abuse of child migrants in WA was more systemic and widespread than first believed, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan told _The Weekend West _that he would hold a royal commission if he won next year's election.

In 1996, Mr Barnett led a parliamentary inquiry into the child migrant program but it hit a wall when the committee realised the scope of the task was too big.

"As a committee we brought down an interim report," Mr Barnett said yesterday.

"It gave us enough to support all of our recommendations, one of which was that the parliamentary committee be turned into a royal commission.

"There was an extremely strong possibility there would be adverse findings against a range of people and organisations should that have happened."

Mr Barnett, who was one of 1500 children sent to WA to live at Fairbridge farm school in Pinjarra between 1913 and 1961, said then-WA premier Richard Court told him he would not support a royal commission into the matter.

He said there was "no question" in his mind that there were perpetrators who had abused children in State care still alive who had never been brought to justice.

Premier Colin Barnett has said the Government would await the findings of an inquiry into abuse at State-run boarding hostels, which is headed by retired judge Peter Blaxell and due to report by July 18.

Lawyer John Hammond, who is representing 23 former boarders who were victims of child sex abuse, said a royal commission would open up areas that the Blaxell inquiry could not look into under its terms of reference.

On Friday, the Department for Child Protection revealed it had investigated between 2009 and November last year 61 allegations of abuse after referrals from the Redress WA scheme for children historically abused in State care.

It said it removed children "where necessary" if a carer was still registered and legitimate allegations made, but did not say in how many instances this occurred.

Child Protection Minister Robyn McSweeney yesterday moved to assure the community that 15 people with current Working with Children cards and referred to police under Redress-related abuse allegations had been investigated by police. She said there was no indication that in any of the 15 cases children were at risk.

'There was an extremely strong possibility there would be adverse findings against a range of people and organisations.'" Former MP *Mike Barnett *