The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and
Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017 (the bill) would make a number of
changes to the Crimes Act 1914 (Crimes Act), the Criminal Code Act
1995 (the Criminal Code) and other related legislation largely targeted at
responding to child sex offending.
Senators make the following additional comments in relation to the
measures contained in the bill.
Labor's commitment to protecting children
Sex crimes against children are abhorrent. Children are the most
precious and vulnerable members of our community. They deserve our protection
Labor is committed to ensuring that we have the appropriate policies and
legislative settings in place to protect children from these sickening crimes
and ensure that offenders are appropriately punished. Labor always has and
always will fight to protect children here and overseas from exploitation and
This bill builds on many legislative reforms enacted under Labor
Governments. These include the world-leading offences targeting Australians who
engage in the sexual abuse of children overseas introduced by the Keating Labor
Government in 1994, and the preparatory offences and other protection measures
contained in the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences Against
Children) Act 2010, introduced by the Rudd Labor Government.
Legislation alone cannot prevent and respond to these awful crimes.
Labor has a longstanding commitment to delivering policies in government that
prevent child sexual abuse, improve detection and enforcement, and support
In 2009, Labor brought federal, state and territory governments together
to implement the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children, which
included a funding commitment of $63.6 million over four years from the
In 2013, Labor appointed Australia's first National Children's Commissioner to
advocate for the rights of Australia's young people.
Labor also established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses
to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission)–the first inquiry of its kind at a
national level. The Royal Commission was, among other things, directed to
inquire into how systems have failed to protect children, and make
recommendations on how to improve laws, policies and practices to prevent and
better respond to child sexual abuse in institutions.
We are concerned that the bill has been introduced before the publication of
the Royal Commission's Final Report, which is expected in December 2017.
Measures contained in the bill
Labor is broadly supportive of the objects and many of the measures
contained in the bill.
This inquiry has received submissions from a range of stakeholders,
including peak bodies, advocacy groups, academics and the Attorney-General's
Department. The evidence provided by these submissions confirms Labor's strong
belief that we must do more to prevent these crimes.
This bill would implement a number of changes to our Federal criminal
justice system largely targeted at responding to child sex offending. These
include additional assistance for vulnerable child witnesses,
the criminalisation of grooming of third parties for the purpose of procuring a
child for sexual activity,
and an increase to the maximum penalties for certain Commonwealth child sex
Labor wants this bill to be as strong and as effective as possible. We
note that some submissions to the inquiry raised concerns about various unintended
consequences of the bill, as discussed in the Committee's report and
Labor believes that these concerns should be seriously considered and,
where appropriate and possible, addressed by the Government. Labor also
believes that there are areas of the bill that could and should be
strengthened. Labor will be looking to work with the Government to ensure this bill
is as effective as possible.
Senator Louise Pratt
Australian Labor Party
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