‘Justice for our kids’: Llew speaks out
A FEDERAL bill which creates mandatory minimum sentences for sexual abusers of children has been lauded by MP Llew O’Brien as a win against “depraved individuals”.
The Wide Bay MP said the laws passed this week were an important step for justice.
“This is just locking up paedophiles,” Mr O’Brien said.
The laws were needed because “because too many were walking away from the courts with no custodial sentence”, he said. “If you sexually molest a child you’re a depraved person who should be locked up.
“We’ve ensured that’s going to happen.”
The bill had become a political battleground between the parties, with Labor accused of backflipping after it originally supported an amended version alongside the Greens, the Centre Alliance and Jacqui Lambie.
This amended bill removed a mandatory minimum and created a review of sentences.
Labor’s platform prohibits mandatory minimums and it had Senate support for the amended bill.
The party made its about-face after the LNP ruled out passing the amended bill in the lower house.
The Law Council of Australia had lobbied against mandatory minimums, saying they restrict judicial discretion.
Including them could lead to a situation where an 18-year-old in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old, or exchanged graphic pictures on social media, receives a lengthy sentence.
In a statement on Monday, Law Council president Pauline Wright called for the Coalition to reconsider its push for mandatory sentencing.
“Mandatory minimum sentences are abhorrent to the whole notion of sentencing where judicial discretion is essential and can result in perverse jury decisions of not guilty for low-end offending where juries think the sentencing outcomes will be unfair because of the mandatory minimum,” Ms Wright said.
She said the council had “long supported a comprehensive review” of child abuse sentencing practices but minimums “erode an important incentive to plead guilty, which will lead to more contested trials”.
“The Law Council firmly believes that mandatory sentencing is inconsistent with Australia’s voluntarily assumed international human rights obligations,” she said.
Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann said the mandatory sentencing “does not apply to offenders who are under 18 when they commit the offence”.