Child sex offenders could face life behind bars under laws to be re-introduced to federal parliament next week.
Predators who commit serious crimes against children could also face mandatory minimum sentences, while repeat offenders would find it much harder to get bail.
The vast majority of child sex offences are state crimes, so the proposed shake-up of Commonwealth laws is largely aimed at pedophiles who offend online or overseas.
Attorney-General Christian Porter is furious about the leniency of penalties handed to pedophiles.
“It simply beggars belief that nearly a third of all child sex offenders who were sentenced last year were not required to spend a single day behind bars,” Porter said on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
“And when jail terms were handed out, the average length of time that offenders spent in custody was just 18 months.”
The coalition tried to pass similar legislation in 2017, but it was knocked back after Labor baulked at the inflexible nature of the mandatory sanctions included in the bill.
The federal opposition argued juries would be less likely to convict if they knew judges had no discretion on sentencing.
However, this time around, Labor appears open to reconsidering the bill.
“Every child must be kept safe,” shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said.
“Labor strongly supports keeping children safe and holding these horrendous individuals to account.”
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton wants to get the legislation through parliament as quickly as possible.
“It’s not a silver bullet, but it sends a clear message of deterrence,” he said.
“We need to be realistic about the threat and we need to lock up those people that are doing the wrong thing.”
The legislation will be introduced to parliament next Wednesday, Sept. 11.
By Daniel McCulloch