The West

MP supports victims
Victims of Dennis John McKenna Todd Jefferis and Darryl Stephens.

Albany MP Peter Watson has thrown his support behind victims of serial paedophile Dennis McKenna.

Mr Watson, who tabled a petition of 700 signatures in State Parliament recently, calling for the ex gratia payments to be raised above the $45,000 offered, asked Premier Colin Barnett to sit down with the victims and discuss the issue.

Mr Watson said the Premier should listen to the victims’ stories.

“I think if he heard these stories, if he’s got any feelings at all, he would change his mind very, very quickly,” Mr Watson said.

He accused the Government of paying more attention to people with visible scars in response to an announcement two victims of the Kimberley Ultramarathon would receive $450,000.

Mr Watson made the comments outside Parliament house last Tuesday, where victims of McKenna mounted a protest against the Government’s maximum ex gratia payment of $45,000, offered by Mr Barnett following the Blaxell inquiry into sexual abuse at State-run hostels.

“I’m not giving up on this, we’ve just got to keep putting that pressure on to make sure these guys get looked after,” he said.

“What we’ve got to do now is work on some of the people in the National Party, in the Greens and some of (the Premier’s) own party who have told me unofficially that they think these guys have been hard done by.”

During Parliament last week, Mr Barnett again apologised to the victims but said the payment limit would not be lifted.

“These are ex gratia payments made in good faith; they do not compensate for the abuse of children and no one has ever suggested that they do,” he said.

Victim Todd Jefferis said while the inquiry did a lot of good and would provide some positive change, he was disappointed in the Government’s ex gratia payment offer.

He told the Great Southern Herald that the figure was not “worth talking about”.

“Not for what we’ve been through,” Mr Jefferis said. “It’s pathetic.”

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