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Johnson applauds suicides



THE death of a Queensland teacher and others charged in an ongoing child porn investigation sparked a fiery outburst from Central Queensland politician Vaughan Johnson in state parliament yesterday.

The Nationals frontbencher and Member for Gregory, whose area includes parts of Emerald and the Gemfields, launched a scathing attack on the alleged offenders.

Four Queensland teachers and six holders of blue cards - official accreditation to work with children - were among 94 people arrested across the country as part of Operation Centurion.

Queensland authorities yesterday confirmed one teacher who was arrested took his own life and another was in hospital after attempting suicide.

"I hope they bring these grubs to justice," Mr Johnson said. "We find out how much guts they've got ... as one of them committed suicide yesterday and another one had a big go, but he must not have had the courage to do it properly.

"If they all went and did it first up, we wouldn't have this problem. They must be guilty if they commit suicide ... maybe I am too harsh but I've got no time for that."

The arrests have reignited debate over the depth of background checks on people who work with children. Teachers undergo reference and criminal history checks before they are registered, but they are not required to hold a blue card.

Education Minister Rod Welford said he would review the checks to ensure they were adequate.

He said he would also consider whether teachers should hold a blue card, but insisted current checks were more thorough than those under the blue card system.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said he understood some of the men arrested held expired blue cards.

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg yesterday said the government had peddled false hope with its blue card system.

He said blue cards needed a better screening process to identify potential sex offenders. Premier Anna Bligh said the blue card system was regularly updated to "make the net as tight as possible".

"The blue card can't ever be a system that predicts who might become a child (sex) offender," she said.

"What it can do is screen out those people who have some history, and it does very effectively."

Mr Welford downplayed suggestions that downloading child pornography was a widespread problem among Queensland teachers.



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