Sex offenders to have wings clipped

The federal government has flagged tougher sentences for Australian child sex offenders as it moves to ban thousands of them from travelling overseas.


Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Wednesday introduced to parliament draft laws to restrict the movement of about 20,000 registered offenders.

The legislation creates a new offence for reportable offenders to travel or attempt to travel overseas without permission.

It also gives the minister the power to deny them a passport when requested.

More than 770 Australian child sex offenders went abroad in 2016 – half of whom were deemed “medium to high risk” by police.

A third of them violated an obligation to tell police of their intended travel.

“These offenders have a high propensity to re-offend in countries where they are not monitored and where child sexual exploitation is rampant,” Ms Bishop said.

“These laws will make Australia a world leader in protecting vulnerable children from child sex tourism.”

Existing measures were ineffective and the process resource-intensive, she told MPs, but the new bill addresses those deficiencies.

“These tough new measures send a strong message to child sex offenders that they cannot use overseas travel to sexually exploit and abuse children,” she said.

Any decision by the foreign minister to cancel or refuse to issue a passport to an offender cannot be appealed by a review board under the proposal.

Ms Bishop flagged further legislation to criminalise “emerging forms of child sexual exploitation” and strengthen the sentencing and management of Commonwealth child sex offenders.

She hopes the bills will be introduced to parliament in the Spring sitting.

“Such abhorrent crimes will not be tolerated.”

Labor said it was prepared to work constructively with the government on the issue but was waiting to see more details.

“We all want to ensure what is best for Australian children and indeed children from overseas as well,” Senator Anthony Chisolm told reporters in Canberra.