House debates

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Questions without Notice

Child Safety

2:45 pm

Photo of Vince ConnellyVince Connelly (Stirling, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister outline for the House how the Morrison government is ensuring that Australia leads the fight to combat child exploitation?

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for his question and for the support of the government's very determined policy to make sure that we can keep Australian children safe. We've invested more money into making sure that we can keep kids safe online, to make sure that we can defeat the scourge of paedophilia, whether it's in the real world or it's online. I'm very proud of the fact that we've been able to invest $70 million in the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, which is a world leader—it's recognised as such. It's brought together not only state and territory jurisdictions but also international partners to make sure that we can work to stop the very dreadful business of children being sexually assaulted for those paedophiles here and overseas.

In December 2019 the ACE child protection triage unit identified a case, along with their agency partners, which was a particularly egregious case. And one of the things that we need to do in our country is to recognise the extent of this problem. It's not polite to talk about children being sexually abused when we're in discussion in any setting. It offends all of us. It is something that we need to talk more about because it is happening every day. There are children that are being sexually abused online for the gratification of Australians and others around the world. It is perverse behaviour, and it's proliferated because of the use of the internet. And we know that in many cases the police can't access the details because the messages have been encrypted. The use of technology is working to the advantage of the criminals and paedophiles in this space.

We have done all we can and will continue to do all we can as a country to make sure that we bring those paedophiles to account. I want to make sure that all Australian parents can have confidence when their kids go online—the hours and hours that they spend on their devices—that they're not being groomed, that they're not being photographed or that images aren't being taken and transmitted around the world, because, for young boys and girls, those sexual images are multiplied thousands of times across the internet and those children are effectively offended against on each of those occasions.

I want Australians to be aware of the extent of the problem. In December last year, as I said, there was a case where a 48-year-old male from Queensland was alleged to have filmed his own actions engaging in sexual acts with his son, and he posted that online trying to identify further offenders that he could engage with. I want to pay tribute to all of those officers who involved themselves in this very difficult area of police investigation. I want to make sure that people know that this is an issue that our Australian public needs to talk more about and that together we have a concerted effort, both online and in the real world, to make sure that we can protect Australian children.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

2:49 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

on indulgence—firstly, can I associate everyone in this parliament, certainly on this side, with the minister's comments. Particularly for those people acting on the front line, this is a tough job that has an emotional and mental health impact on them I am certain. We need to, as a parliament, do everything we can to keep kids safe.