House debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Cybersafety

2:48 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs. Will the minister update the House on the Morrison government's commitment to keeping Australians safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, and—so importantly—the steps being taken to protect our Aussie kids?

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

I thank the honourable member for his question. I want all Australian families to know that the Morrison government are doing whatever we can to provide support to you. As the health minister pointed out earlier, the government took decisions very early on to close our borders to make sure that we could protect Australians and keep COVID from our country for as long as possible.

But we've also made a number of other decisions to help Australian families stay safe in the course of this global pandemic. We have taken the decision to invest a significant amount of money in the Australian Federal Police and other agencies within the Home Affairs portfolio, to identify individuals who are preying on children and families whilst they're spending more time online. I've reported on this to the House before, but I can provide an update. There has been additional warrant activity by the Australian Federal Police and the Queensland police and other agencies in recent days.

But there is a case that I can provide some detail on, and that is in relation to a 43-year-old Gold Coast man who was arrested by the Brisbane Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team. That individual had seized from him four mobile phones. It's alleged that that individual was involved in sharing child abuse material, images of young boys and girls, through both Snapchat and MiWi.

The fact is that these predators will work online. They will provide images. They will share images with other paedophiles. They will seek to groom young children, boys and girls, pretending that they are of a similar age. They understand the language and the nuance of what's required to have a conversation with children of a very young age, and ultimately, in some cases, tragically, as we've seen, they can lure those children into a physical meet.

So the work of the agencies—in particular, the ACCCE in Brisbane but also the AFP and the QPS—in relation to this investigation really needs to be noted by the House. It underscores the fact that we will do whatever it takes to make sure, as a government, we are investing in our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to keep Australians safe. We want to make sure families hear very clearly the message that you need to have a full and frank conversation with your children about making sure that the appropriate protections are in place when they're online. If they are fearful that their children have been put in a compromised position then we want them, please, to contact Crime Stoppers or to contact the police, because the ACCCE has a specialist expertise in working with NGOs and others that can provide support. This is a No. 1 priority of the Prime Minister and, I know, all of us in this chamber and all decent people across Australian society.

2:51 pm

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

on indulgence—Indeed, the minister got that absolutely right: this parliament's absolutely united in doing whatever we can to stamp out that abhorrent practice, and it is a good use of this parliament that the minister just made to inform parents about the dangers and the importance of making sure that their children are aware of what they need to do should there be one of these evil predators engaging with them in some form online.