Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2019; Consideration of House of Representatives Message
That the committee does not insist on its amendment to which the House of Representatives has disagreed.
In doing so, I urge the Senate not to insist on its amendment. This amendment, if insisted upon, would remove schedule 6 of the bill, which provides for mandatory minimum sentences for child sex offences that attract the highest penalties and for recidivist child sex offenders who have previously been convicted of a child sex offence.
Current sentencing practices for Commonwealth child sex offences are resulting in manifestly inadequate sentences that do not sufficiently recognise the harm suffered by victims of child sex offences or provide for adequate rehabilitation time in custody. Between 1 February 2014 and 31 January 2019 approximately 40 per cent of Commonwealth child sex offenders were not sentenced to spend a single day in prison. In the last five years the most common length of imprisonment for a Commonwealth child sex offence was 18 months, with the most common non-parole period or fixed term period being six months or less. Many sentences for Commonwealth child sex offenders are applied on the basis of being manifestly inadequate. The mandatory minimum provisions provided for in schedule 6 are necessary to achieve the bill's intent of ensuring that sentencing for child sex offences is in line with community expectations.
To reiterate, the provisions do not impose mandatory non-parole periods. Judicial discretion is maintained on setting the minimum period in custody, and minimum penalties can be reduced where an offender pleads guilty and cooperates with law enforcement agencies. The mandatory sentencing provisions of this bill do not apply to offenders who are under 18 when they commit an offence. I repeat this: the mandatory sentencing provisions of this bill do not apply to offenders who are under 18 when they commit an offence. I urge the Senate to not insist on its amendment to remove schedule 6.