Tough new laws that will see paedophiles who use the Internet to exploit and sexually abuse children facing jail terms of up to 10 years have now passed both houses of State Parliament.
Acting Attorney General John D’Orazio said the proposed new laws were designed to crack down on cyber predators who exposed children to indecent material or attempted to 'groom' children for sexual activity.
Mr D’Orazio said the Criminal Code Amendment (Cyber Predators) Bill 2005, would mean people convicted of procuring a child they thought was under 13 for sexual or indecent activity, or supplying a child under 13 with indecent material, would face a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Offenders would face five years’ jail for the same offence if they believed the child was aged between 13 and 16.
"Paedophiles all over the world are using the anonymity of the Internet to prey on young children, so we need modern legislation to combat that abuse,” Mr D’Orazio said.
“The new laws will allow police to pose as children on-line to conduct operations against paedophiles trawling Internet chat rooms for potential victims.
“They will also enable a magistrate to issue a court order to force suspected paedophiles to provide police with access to data storage devices, such as computers and mobile phones.
“This will help overcome new methods of hiding evidence such as encryption, which can thwart successful prosecutions.
“Suspects who do not assist police will face up to five years’ jail.”
The acting Attorney General said police units investigating paedophilia in Australia and around the world reported that Internet chat sites set up for children were being increasingly used by perverts seeking to meet and exploit children.
"Police say that paedophiles frequently use Internet chat sites, sometimes even posing as children, to befriend and groom a potential victim for sexual exploitation," he said.
Mr D’Orazio said changes had been made to the Working With Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act so that people convicted of the new cyber offences would be prevented from working with children.
New laws had also been introduced to provide the indefinite detention of serious sex offenders and convicted child sex offenders on completion of their sentence if there was a risk they would re-offend.
Minister's office: 9213 7150