Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Mandatory Sentencing for Sexual Crimes Against Children.

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (18:35): My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Attorney-General and is about the need for child sex offenders to feel the full force of the law. Recently I was impressed to hear that the federal Labor Party had defied its national platform and supported a government bill that introduces mandatory minimum sentences for the most serious child sex offences. The federal opposition leader went on to say that his party will assist in any way possible to stop the crime. Under the government’s legislation, recidivist child sex offenders would also face minimum sentences from one to four years. While Labor’s national platform states that the party opposes mandatory sentencing, opposition legal affairs spokesperson Mark Dreyfus said on Wednesday that there was a lot that this bill gets right. The bill also included a new maximum penalty for child sex offenders of life imprisonment and a presumption against bail to keep offenders in custody while they face trial. While the legislation applies to commonwealth offences, many other sexual crimes—such as sexual assault and the penetration of a minor—fall under the jurisdiction of state government. Of course, we have seen similar moves by the Victorian Labor Party to depart from its opposition to mandatory sentencing in order to protect emergency service workers. The Andrews government has proven that it is capable of departing from party policy in order to meet public expectation. I was disgusted to read that 39 per cent of convicted commonwealth child sex offenders did not spend a single day in prison last financial year. This statistic is as shocking as the statistic that I raised in an adjournment matter last sitting week about the reality that in 2017–18 only 51 per cent of people sentenced for sexual penetration of a child aged 12 to 16 were given a term of imprisonment. This is simply sickening and out of step with public expectation. Therefore, the action that I seek is for the Attorney-General to explain why the state government does not mirror federal Labor’s approach and impose mandatory sentencing for sexual crimes against children.


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