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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2495

Senator CHAPMAN (5.21 p.m.) —I say at the outset in relation to this legislation that I support any initiatives which will ensure that paedophiles from Australia who engage in crimes against children in other countries, let alone in our own country, should be rigorously pursued by law enforcement agencies. However, I have very real concerns, despite all the best intentions of this government and of this particular piece of legislation to pursue this abhorrent activity and put these insidious criminals behind bars, that the sad reality is that any real progress is hampered by a lack of resources within the Australian law enforcement agencies. This is clearly explained in the report of the Review of Commonwealth Law Enforcement Arrangements, dated February 1994. Under the section headed `Organised Paedophile Networks', at paragraph 4.73 on page 36, it says:

Paedophile networks have not been the subject of proactive law enforcement, primarily because of a lack of resources. As a consequence, the extent of the networks and their activities remain unknown. Nevertheless, the illegal activities of groups such as these have the capacity to generate profits and there is evidence that they are organised.

As I say, that raises very genuine and real concerns about the bona fides of this government as far as dealing with this particular problem is concerned. It is all right to come into this parliament and pass laws which it claims will alleviate this situation; but if the resources are not going to be provided to enforce those laws, it is raising false hope in the community. It is simply not good enough, and of little value, to produce legislation like this and increase the penalties for this type of activity, when our law enforcement agencies, which have the responsibility of enforcing the state and federal legislation, are restricted by the lack of resources identified in this review.

  There is a real need to adopt a more uniform, national approach with a commitment by this government to provide more resources for stopping paedophiles who prey upon children, not only in other countries, but also within our own. Just in case there is any doubt about the extent of paedophilia and its well-organised networks, I will quote from an American publication entitled the Nambla Bulletin, `The Voice of the North American Man/Boy Love Association'. I might add that it seems to also be published under the auspices of the Gay/Lesbian Press Association and the International Lesbian Gay Association, because it includes their logos on its title sheet here. I will quote from what I guess is the editorial of this issue. It is headed `Where We Stand':

The North American Man/Boy Love Association is both political and educational. We work to organize support for boys and men who have or desire consensual sexual and emotional relationships and to educate society on their positive nature. We speak out against the oppression endured by men and boys who love one another and support the right of all people to consensual intergenerational relationships.

. . . . . . . . .

Our spokespeople raise awareness of the issue in the media and academia, before community groups, and among the general public. While Nambla's members represent a diversity of backgrounds and politics, we all share a libertarian, humanistic attitude on sexuality.

. . . . . . . . .

Differences in age do not preclude mutual, loving interaction between persons any more than differences in race or class.

The rest of this disgraceful document goes on to justify paedophilia. As I say, it indicates the nature of the network and the strength of the organisation of paedophiles when they can freely publish a document like this. I seek leave to table this document.

  Leave granted.

Senator CHAPMAN —I thank the Senate. We see from that document some of the organisational structure that this group has managed to develop overseas. It would be foolish to believe that paedophiles are active primarily only in the United States and that these sorts of networks do not exist here in Australia.

  The Australian Federal Police have also carried out an overview of the extent of paedophile activity both in Australia and overseas, including child sexual abuse and exploitation. That overview was contained in a report of 1992, following a seminar conducted by the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence and held in Canberra in July of that year.

  I will quote from the conclusions of this document, which provides an excellent summary of the problems associated with paedophile activity in Australia and in many other countries nominated by international law enforcement agencies. The conclusion to the document says:

  In recent years, it has become evident that the problems of child sexual abuse and exploitation are serious, and more widespread than previously assumed. They are problems both in Australia and overseas and can take the form of child prostitution, child pornography, trading in children, sexual slavery, bogus adoptions or sexual abuse in the family or local environment.

  Children have always been easy prey for exploitation. They have been abandoned, physically assaulted, sold, neglected, emotionally traumatised, sexually molested and even murdered at the whim of adults. Child sexual abuse and exploitation is one of the most heinous crimes and a serious violation of the human rights of defenceless people. Continued assessment of information supplied is essential for a better appreciation of the problem in Australia.

  A number of measures could be taken to counter the sexual exploitation of children, including:

. The continuation and expansion of the public awareness program to alert both children and parents to the dangers of paedophilia;

. Greater utilisation of the AFP Liaison Officers overseas on the exchange of information on paedophile activities by visiting Australians;

. The enactment of extra-territorial laws to deal with paedophile activities by Australians in foreign countries—

Of course, that is the legislation that we are dealing with here this afternoon. It continues:

. Extensions to existing legislation to include: a general ban on mistreatment of children and the compulsory reporting of all sexual offences suspected or committed against children and young persons.

  However, the success of these measures require greater involvement of and co-operation between law enforcement agencies in Australia and overseas, and support from child welfare bodies and the community at large.

We see implied in the latter part of that conclusion the need for more resources to be devoted to stamping out this particularly unacceptable and heinous behaviour. I seek leave to table this document. Approval was given by the previous duty minister.

  Leave granted.

Senator CHAPMAN —I believe that the tabling of these two documents will certainly draw some public attention to one of Australia's most hideous and insidious types of crimes. I hope they will provide further evidence and information of the need for both state and federal governments to increase their efforts and to take a more serious approach to stamping out this crime.

  I conclude my brief remarks on this very important issue by supporting this legislation and reiterating that while, along with my coalition colleagues, I support this legislation, it is simply not enough. It is not a sufficient effort on the part of the government simply to pass this legislation dealing with crimes by Australians against children overseas. The government must provide the resources, in particular the financial resources, within Australia to ensure that our law enforcement agencies can take effective action against the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against children. I urge the government to put more resources into fighting the spread of paedophilia activity by Australians both within our own country and overseas.