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Royal commission to get more time

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has all but confirmed the royal commission into institutional abuse will be given extra funding and its term extended to enable all victims to be heard.

The commission has requested an additional $104 million and a two-year extension to its 2015 reporting deadline to allow hundreds, if not thousands, more victims to come forward and give evidence.

So far the request has gone unanswered, but on Thursday Mr Abbott said he was confident he would be able to grant the commission’s wishes.

‘We ought to be in a position in the new few weeks to commit additional resources,’ he told ABC Radio, adding the government had supported it ‘every step of the way’.

More than 2000 victims already have presented to the commission which is investigating institutional sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, Cardinal George Pell’s role in setting up a Catholic Church compensation scheme for victims of pedophile priests will be scrutinised at the child abuse royal commission.

He was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 when the Melbourne archdiocese decided to respond to growing allegations of child sex abuse by its clergy.

The church considered creating a legal entity in 1996 that could be sued by victims, but designed the Melbourne Response compensation scheme instead.

Cardinal Pell told the royal commission earlier this year he believed the church should now create an entity that could be sued.

A Victorian parliamentary inquiry last year recommended the Catholic Church be incorporated so it could be sued.

Melbourne archdiocese lawyer Richard Leder said the church’s position had shifted due to a better understanding of the extent of clergy sexual abuse.

‘(It is) the sheer number of victims, but (also) a much greater understanding of the long term effects of abuse,” Mr Leder told the commission on Wednesday.

Cardinal Pell, now working in the Vatican, will give evidence via video-link from Rome at 4pm (AEST) on Thursday.

 


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