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Labor and Liberals Play Politics on Child Sexual Abuse

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 14 November 2023

Tags: Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, Justice, Democracy, Child Abuse

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Leader

It was a matter of deep sadness today to watch the Labor Party vote for craven self-interest and support the Liberals' fourth attempt at passing mandatory minimum sentencing legislation.

Let us be clear. Every single expert on this matter - legal and sexual violence sectors - have opposed previois versions of this bill because it will increase harms for victim-survivors. After almost a decade of pursuing this policy, the Liberals have failed to present a single expert testimony to the contrary, and deliberately did not consult with anyone about this latest bill.

The Sentencing Advisory Council's report said clearly the law “...will result in increased trauma for victims and a likely reduction in the number of convictions obtained.”

The SAC also said: “. . . strong opposition to the introduction of mandatory sentencing was expressed by the Bar Association, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Prisoners Legal Service and the Law Society.”

It was staggering to watch the Labor Party's shadow Ella Haddad outline her party's historic and thrice continued opposition to this bill, only to turn around in her last breath today and announce her party will support the bill. The only reason she gave was that Labor are 'tired of the Government using it as a political weapon'.

Confessing to political cowardice, Labor have sent the clear message they have no spine, and will collapse if the Liberals push them hard enough. It’s happened on pokies, the stadium, political donations, and now mandatory minimum sentences.

We applaud every independent member of the cross-bench present who stood with victim-survivors, and voted with us against this legislation.

There is still time for Labor to listen to the Family and Sexual Violence prevention sector, and the legal community, and vote against this bill in the Legislative Council. If they do change their mind we doubt it will be because they found their conscience.

Tasmanian politics has been rife with unprecedented and surprising events this year – but Labor finding their conscience is too far removed from plausibility.