New bill to fight sexual abuse of children online

  • Judith Collins

A Bill that increases the penalties for making, trading or possessing child exploitation material passed its first reading in Parliament today.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill delivers this Government’s commitment to protecting children from exploitation.

“We’re targeting criminals who prey on children, either by feeding the supply or fuelling the demand for the insidious underground child sexual abuse market,” Ms Collins says.

“The Internet age has allowed objectionable material to be easily viewed and shared in ways and in volumes unimagined only a decade ago.  For example, offenders can possess collections of more than a million images of sexually exploited children.”

New measures in the Bill include:

  • increasing the maximum penalty for possession, import or export of an objectionable publication from 5 years to 10 years imprisonment
  • increasing the maximum penalty for distributing or making an objectionable publication from 10 years to 14 years imprisonment
  • creating a presumption of imprisonment for repeat offenders - any person convicted of a child exploitation material offence for a second time will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment
  • making it clear in the Classification Act that possession of objectionable material includes intentionally viewing electronic material without consciously downloading or saving it
  • creating a new offence of indecent communication with a child (anyone under the age of 16) which includes texting, online and verbal communication.

“These changes reflect the seriousness of these heinous crimes, and send a strong message that the exploitation and abuse of children will not be tolerated,” Ms Collins says.

The Bill will now be referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee where the public will be able to make submissions.