Further strengthening protections for children and young people

Guy Barnett, Attorney General

The Tasmanian Government’s commitment to throw the book at those who commit the most abhorrent of crimes is a step closer, with the tabling of enabling legislation in the House of Assembly coming today.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Guy Barnett, said the intention to table of the Sentencing Amendment (Presumption of Mandatory Sentencing) Bill is the latest evidence of the Government’s commitment to protect the most vulnerable Tasmanians, fulfilling a commitment to strengthen penalties for serious sexual crimes perpetrated against children and young people.

“These minimum sentences are based on the recommendations of the Sentencing Advisory Council on what would be appropriate minimum levels of imprisonment for these serious crimes,” the Attorney-General said.

“This Bill legislates the community’s expectations, providing a minimum sentence of imprisonment that should be imposed in relation to child sexual offenders while preserving judicial discretion in circumstances where a Court is satisfied it is unjust to do so.

“For transparency, the Bill requires the Court to provide reasons if it does not impose the minimum sentence.

“Offenders of sexual violence against children and our young people deserve significant sentences of imprisonment in recognition of the heinous, and lifelong effects of their criminal conduct on their victims.

“Introducing this Bill to provide for a presumption of minimum sentences for serious child sexual offences is a very important and a substantial step forward.

“These measures will assist consistency in sentencing and improve public confidence by ensuring that sentences reflect community views for these heinous crimes.

“As part of our 2030 Strong Plan for Tasmania’s Future, we are committed to ensuring Tasmania’s legislative framework is contemporary and functions as intended, and these amendments will ensure this continues to be the case.

“The amendments demonstrate the Government’s commitment to improving the operation of the law for victims, with further reforms to come.”

This Bill will amend the Sentencing Act 1997 to provide for the following minimum terms of imprisonment:

  1. 4 years’ imprisonment for the crime of rape (section 185 of the Criminal Code) where a victim is under 18 years at the time of the offence;
  2. 4 years’ imprisonment for the crime of persistent sexual abuse of a child or young person (section 125A of the Criminal Code) where at least one of the unlawful sexual acts is a crime of rape;
  3. 3 years’ imprisonment for the crime of persistent sexual abuse of a child or young person (section 125A of the Criminal Code) where there are circumstances of aggravation and none of the unlawful sexual acts is an offence of rape; and
  4. 2 years’ imprisonment for the crime of penetrative sexual abuse of a child or young person (section 124 of the Criminal Code) where there are circumstances of aggravation; and
  5. 2 years’ imprisonment for the crime of penetrative sexual abuse of a child or young person (section 124A of the Criminal Code).

/Public Release. View in full here.