Crimes Amendment (Child Pornography and Other Matters) Bill 2015

Written on the 16 September 2015


15 September 2015

 

COUNCIL 

 

Second reading 

 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

I am pleased to rise and speak on the Crimes Amendment (Child Pornography and Other Matters) Bill 2015.

 

As other members have said, this is an important piece of legislation because it protects the most vulnerable members of our community that is, children. As other speakers on this side of the chamber have said, the coalition supports this bill. We do so because we want to do anything we can to safeguard our children. This bill recognises the importance of protecting our children who, as I said, are the most vulnerable members of our community.

We also support the bill because child pornography is truly a heinous crime. Recent media reports have highlighted how insidious this crime is and the reach that it has. It directly affects not only children but also their family members, who must deal with the consequences of child pornography rings.

With the advanced technologies that we are all using, child pornography can reach further into our lives. It is important that we do what we can to ensure that the legislation we introduce is as restrictive as possible and that people who want to reach out and harm children can be met with the full force of the law. The coalition wants to ensure that people who undertake criminal activity are met with the full force of the law. I believe that child pornography is one of those heinous crimes that needs to have significant penalties attached to it. Victoria Police has highlighted its concerns regarding gaps in the laws relating to child pornography. As I said, it is also important that the courts continue to recognise the importance of punishing offenders in the most appropriate ways.

This bill amends the Crimes Act 1958 to increase the maximum penalty for possession of child pornography from 5 to 10 years imprisonment. It also introduces three new offences relating to the use of child pornography websites and assisting others to avoid apprehension for child pornography offences.

Clause 6 inserts new sections 70AAAB, 70AAAC, 70AAAD and 70AAAE into the Crimes Act. New section 70AAAB(1) creates the new offence of administering a child pornography website. Under this section a person commits an offence if they administer or assist in the administration of a website used by another person to deal with child pornography.

New section 70AAAC(1) creates the new offence of encouraging use of a website to deal with child pornography. Under this section a person commits this offence if they are 18 years of age or more and encourage another person to use a website.

A further section that brings major reform to this legislation is new section 70AAAD(1), which provides for the new offence of assisting a person to avoid apprehension for a child pornography offence. It provides that a person commits this offence if they intentionally provide information to another person and intend that the other person use that information to avoid or reduce the likelihood of apprehension for a child pornography offence. These are very important elements to the bill, and we as legislators can truly say that anyone who is assisting in dissemination of this information through a website or through the use of technology, or who is administering child pornography or being involved in its distribution, should be accountable for their actions.

As I said, there has been some recent media attention around the issue of child pornography.

 

On 30 July it became known that somebody here in Melbourne of a relatively young age himself a 22-year-old was involved in an international child pornography ring. The circumstances around his actions are truly dreadful. To see reports of this is to understand that people can want to take some of these actions, such as horrific abductions, taking people's lives, abusing children at a very young age, using those images and keeping children as sex slaves. These are all horrendous situations that are hard to imagine a decent human being would even want to be involved with.

I am pleased that in reaction to this case the police, the community and we as legislators are rightly looking at what needs to be done to prevent further occurrences of situations like that. It is truly dreadful to think that this is happening under our noses. With the advancements in technology these rings are being monitored, I am pleased to say, from an international perspective, a national perspective and a more local policing perspective, but at times they can slip past the eyes of the authorities. These pornographic websites, images and actions can have truly detrimental and devastating effects on children who get caught up in these events.

Without going through all the clauses, and I know other speakers have, it is important that we deal with child pornography in this manner. The offenders who engage in these activities need to face sentencing that is appropriate, and as a former coalition government we did increase the baseline sentencing laws. We need to ensure that these offenders have proper penalties applied, and we need to do as much as we can to protect our most vulnerable children.

As I said, the coalition supports this bill. It is an important piece of legislation with which we continue to work with those agencies and ensure that we do as much as possible to stamp out the heinous crime of child pornography.

 


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