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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4239 ..

Title read by Clerk.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (10.50): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I present the Royal Commission Criminal Justice Legislation Amendment Bill to the Assembly. This bill makes a number of substantive and positive changes to ACT legislation following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The bill is the second bill to implement recommendations from the royal commission, establishing the legal framework for the protection of people, primarily children, from sexual violence by implementing eight key recommendations.

In summary, the bill will create an important new criminal offence of failing to protect children; it will improve our court procedures for charging and sentencing people who target children; and it will make improvements to our court and evidence procedures to support vulnerable people in the courtroom.

I have spoken before in this place about the importance of the royal commission. As I have said and will continue to say, the abuse of a child is a terrible crime perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our community, and it cannot be tolerated. It is a fundamental breach of the trust which children are entitled to place in adults. We must acknowledge our collective failures to protect children in the past and take responsibility for protecting them in the future.

On 22 October 2018, Prime Minister Morrison delivered the national apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. It acknowledged and apologised for the unacceptable and widespread failures to protect children identified by the royal commission. It acknowledged the need to take responsibility for those failures and to ensure they are not repeated. The apology also reaffirmed Australia’s shared commitment to implementing the recommendations of the royal commission.

Prime Minister Morrison stated:

… acting on the recommendations of the royal commission with concrete action gives practical meaning to today’s apology.

As was said by the national apology reference group, “An apology without action is just a piece of paper.” The Leader of the Opposition said during Monday’s apology:

We have the power, the authority and the responsibility to turn these recommendations into actions, without caveats or compromise.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently stated:

The institutional failures and cover-ups that compounded and prolonged the suffering of victims are a stain on our country’s history.

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