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Time to come together in Parliament to back in tougher sentences for child sex offenders

Media Release

It’s time Labor supported Government efforts to toughen penalties for Commonwealth child sex offenders.

The Senate will today resume debate on the Morrison Government’s significant sentencing reforms to increase penalties against serious child sex offenders which deliver on a commitment at the 2019 election.

Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said that as well as introducing mandatory minimum sentences, the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2019 includes a new maximum life penalty for the most serious Commonwealth offences and a presumption against bail to help keep offenders in custody while they face trial.

"To date, Labor has not supported these initiatives," Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said.

"Just in the past week we have seen the culmination of an Australian Federal Police operation which led to the arrests of nine men across Australia over an alleged child abuse network that filmed, photographed and shared online images of abuse against children and, in the process, removing 14 children from harm."

"Our federal and state law enforcement agencies do an excellent job in detecting and disrupting this terrible abuse of the most vulnerable in our community but they need more tools to help them in this important work and one of those tools is tougher penalties to act as a deterrent."

"In one recent case, the District Court of South Australia sentenced Mark Daniel Ivas to just two years and six months with an order that he be released after just 12 months and no requirement to undergo treatment despite being convicted of four offences for accessing, communicating and producing child abuse material. He wrote stories about the violent and horrific abuse he would like to inflict on the three young children of his former girlfriend, who was with the children in the Philippines. He emailed these stories to his former girlfriend, who sent him child abuse images of one of the children – a toddler."

"This Bill reforms the full sentencing cycle of child sex offending from the commission of the offence and presumptions against bail through to breach of parole and supervised release into the community. It includes minimum terms of five to seven years imprisonment for the most serious child sex offences."

"Sexual crimes against children destroy lives. The depraved individuals who prey on these most vulnerable members of our community for their own sexual gratification or financial gain, are too often the subject of short jail terms and are released into the community without any supervision. Last financial year 39 per cent of convicted Commonwealth child sex offenders did not spend a single day in prison – a statistic completely out of step with community expectation. Meanwhile victims are left to face the resulting trauma for the rest of their lives."

"The Morrison Government is committed to these reforms to protect children from these most abhorrent of crimes. Previously Labor has supported mandatory sentencing in other key areas including in 2010 when it introduced mandatory minimum sentences for people smugglers during the failed Labor-Greens alliance government and the task of cracking down on child sex offenders should now also warrant Labor’s support."