- A tough new law to combat child sex abuse is likely to pass in federal parliament
- It would allow judges to give whole life sentences to the very worst abusers
- The attorney general hopes mandatory sentencing will protect vulnerable kids
- Currently a third of convicted abusers never serve a single day behind bars
A landmark bill allowing judges to jail paedophiles for life is set to pass federal parliament on Thursday.
Those who commit sickening crimes against children have often been handed short sentences, with some even released into the community without supervision, attorney general Christian Porter said.
Child abusers would receive a mandatory minimum sentence under the new bill, which also limits bail for repeat offenders.
Under current rules, a third of federally-convicted child sex offenders spent no time in prison in 2019 – and those who did go to jail averaged just 18 months behind bars.
Most child sex offences are dealt with by states, with this new law only applying to federal cases.
A new law targeting paedophiles is likely to pass in federal parliament on Thursday (stock image)
The proposed new laws are aimed at dealing with online or overseas predators, with new offences being set up to target the owners of websites known to host child sex abuse content.
‘Sexual crimes against children destroy lives,’ Mr Porter said on Thursday.
”It simply beggars belief that nearly a third of all child sex offenders who were sentenced last year were not required to spend a single day behind bars,’ the attorney general said.
‘Despite the devastating and life-long impacts that their crimes have on their young victims and their families.’
The bill will likely pass in federal parliament today (pictured, Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison on Wednesday)
While Labor has expressed concerns about mandatory minimum sentencing, senators have indicated they won’t oppose the bill.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese told parliament on Wednesday his party would help the government in ‘any way possible’ to end child abuse.
It follows comments made by home affairs minister Peter Dutton, after a police operation saved 14 children from abuse.
‘The Australian Federal Police working with AUSTRAC and others is detecting more and more people who are depraved, who are online and who deserve to be caught and will be punished,’ Mr Dutton told parliament.
It would also create offences for when someone subjects a child to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, or which causes a child to die.
The proposal will not apply to people under 18.
The new laws are particularly seeking to combat child sex abuse online, and may even punish website operators who let such content be published on their site
The radical overhaul will also bring in a new offence for grooming of third parties with the intention of procuring children for sexual abuse – to target instances of offenders approaching parents and carers.
The minimum prison terms will be five to seven years for the most serious child sex offences.
Reoffenders will also face minimum sentences from one to four years for all Commonwealth child sex offences.
The Australian Federal Police received almost 18,000 reports of child exploitation involving Australian children or Australian child sex offenders in 2018, which was almost double the number from the previous year.
‘Sentences need to reflect community expectations and act as a significant deterrent to others, which is why these sorts of despicable crimes must result in significant penalties, not simply a slap on the wrist which is often the case,’ Mr Dutton said last year.