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Thursday, 18 March 2010
Page: 2220

Senator XENOPHON (1:14 PM) —I, too, strongly support the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences Against Children) Bill 2010. I welcome it. It is essential legislation for the protection of our children in the terms of the conduct that occurs overseas as well. I note Senator Brandis’s comments about the work that Senator Bernardi has done in relation to this and the bill that he put up in this place some two years ago. I, too, acknowledge the hard work of Senator Bernardi in relation to this.

I just want to seek leave in a moment to table a letter I have from the Minister for Home Affairs. I have been particularly concerned about the grooming of children via misleading information being put out online. A classic example is when a person lies about their age in communicating with a child they could also be lying about other circumstances. Honourable senators may be aware of the tragic circumstances involving Carly Ryan, where the perpetrator, the person responsible for her murder, was recently found guilty in the South Australian Supreme Court. The minister’s office—and I am grateful for the work of the minister, his staff and advisers in relation to this—proposed that a working group be established to address the issues raised in the bill that I have introduced with respect to misrepresentation of age to a minor and that the working group would consider how misrepresentation of age to a minor could be addressed by criminal laws both as preparatory conduct and also as criminal conduct in itself. They propose setting up a working group from the minister’s office, my office, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Federal Police, as well as Susan McLean, Director of Cyber Safety Solutions. I seek leave to table that letter. I welcome that degree of cooperation with the government and I am looking forward to the law being strengthened as a result of the work of that working party.

Leave granted.