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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4402

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (18:36): I certainly agree with Senator Kakoschke-Moore that it is our job to ensure that our laws protect children, wherever they are in the world. However, while the government supports in principle what these amendments are trying to achieve, we need to undertake the necessary due diligence, examine any possible unintended consequences and consult with our law enforcement agencies and industry. We have only just received these amendments, and we are not prepared to make a judgement on the spot, given the potential for the unintended consequence of weakening existing child sex offences.

As outlined in the second reading speech, the Minister for Justice will be proceeding with a further tranche of reforms to strengthen our child sex offender laws in the spring sitting. In the drafting of this upcoming bill the government gives an undertaking that we will consider these amendments that have been put forward. Our government has a strong track record on protecting children from child sex offenders. It was just last week that the Senate passed the protecting minors online bill, which will target online predators who are preparing or planning to cause harm to procure or engage in sexual activity with a child. But we will not allow the strengthening of child sex tourism laws to be delayed any further, not with two registered child sex offenders travelling overseas every single day. This bill must be passed today. We thank the Nick Xenophon Team for their continued support in this area, but the government is not in a position to support these amendments today until we undertake the necessary due diligence.