Page 2231 - Week 07 - Thursday, 23 June 2005
Bill agreed to.
Crimes (Child Sex Offenders) Bill 2005
Debate resumed from 7 April 2005, on motion by Mr Stanhope:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.45): Mr Speaker, I think one of the most horrendous crimes that can be committed, in quite a long catalogue of fairly nasty crimes, is that of adults preying on children, especially preying on children in relation to having sex with them. There have been positive moves in the last 10 or 15 years to expose this offence, because often it was a crime that largely went undetected, was covered up. For the young people involved, it causes immense drama and trauma throughout the rest of their lives.
As we have become a more mobile society, criminals too have become much more mobile. These days artificial boundaries mean nothing in terms of crime. Certainly, in terms of sex offenders, there has been a greater propensity for them to move from one jurisdiction to another after their past has caught up with them. Bills like this go some way towards ensuring that they are controlled and that it is much harder for them to engage in the dreadful activities in which they engage, to the detriment of innocent young children.
This is a national approach. This bill is based on model legislation which I think the Victorians were deputised to do. New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria have the same or very similar bills. Ours differs from New South Wales in one aspect, that is, that offenders have to register within seven days of moving here from another state, rather than the 14 days they have to register in New South Wales. The ACT is a smaller, more homogenous unit, and that seems an eminently sensible deviation from the reporting provisions for NSW. But, apart from that, the legislation is pretty well the same. Indeed, I think it is only Tasmania and Victoria that are yet to enact it, and I understand it is before their cabinets.
I am not going to go through what the government has said. I think that it is basically self-explanatory. I understand that at present we do not have a designated place. Realistically, when one looks at the bill, a designated place would have to be a police station, of which we have several in the ACT—one of which should be operating full time but is not at present, to the detriment of the people living in the north of Canberra. They would be the logical designated places. The bill basically ensures that offenders have to register. If their circumstances change, they have to notify the police. They can stay on the register for varying periods of time. For juveniles, it is from four to 7½ years. The normal period for adults is eight to 15 years, but in some instances it is for life. Those provisions would be in the terms of any court orders imposed on them.
I initially had a concern that this bill might only apply to sex offenders who were jailed for offences. As we know, the ACT does not jail that many people. I am aware of a number of sex offenders who have been convicted but have not been jailed. The bill provides that for anyone convicted of a sex offence where, for whatever reason, the court