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Thursday, 13 September 2007
Page: 142

Senator BARTLETT (3:59 PM) —I seek leave to take note of the government response to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission supplementary report to the report entitled Inquiry into the trafficking of women for sexual servitude.

Leave granted.

Senator BARTLETT —I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

Again, I want to speak to this now because we may well not get the opportunity next Thursday. Given that I am repeatedly complaining about how long it takes for the government to respond to committee reports, I would not want them to think that nobody pays them any attention when they do respond or that they feel like they have been ignored—they are certainly not ignored.

This is a supplementary report from the Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission, a committee that I am now a member of, although I was not at the time of this report. The simple point I want to make is that it is about a very serious issue—the trafficking of women for sexual servitude. It was a supplementary report following up on issues the committee felt needed to be examined. It was in 2003 that the committee commenced an initial inquiry into the work of the Australian Crime Commission in assessing trafficking in women for the purposes of sexual servitude in Australia. That report was released a year later, in June 2004. The committee decided to revisit the issue in mid-2005 to evaluate the progress of the implementation of its recommendations. It released a supplementary report in August 2005. The report contained just three recommendations, which were unanimous. Again, I have to make the point: it is a very important issue and a very simple, short but unanimous and constructive report, with just three recommendations—and the government takes two years to respond. That is simply not good enough. It does not show adequate recognition and respect for the work of the committees or for the very serious issue that is involved here.

I do note that the government has accepted one of the recommendations, that the Crime Commission ‘continue its involvement in law enforcement strategies against sexual servitude and trafficking in women’, and has partially accepted the recommendation for a review of the legislation to take place a year after its implementation—which is now of course out of date, because it has been in place for more than a year. I did want to make the point that it is welcome that a response has occurred, and it is good that there is ongoing engagement and involvement of the Australian Crime Commission on the important issue of the trafficking of women for sexual servitude, but it is not satisfactory that it takes two years to respond to just three unanimous recommendations. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.