The federal government hopes tough new laws will prevent pedophiles avoiding jail or being released into the community without proper supervision.
Fewer than two-thirds of child sex offenders have been handed prison sentences since 2012, most commonly for a minimum of six months, Justice Minister Michael Keenan has told parliament.
But legislation introduced on Wednesday proposes longer jail terms, mandatory minimum sentences, and stricter supervision.
“These measures send a clear message – this government will not tolerate such appalling and disgusting acts against children,” Mr Keenan told MPs.
“The government is increasingly concerned about the manifestly inadequate sentences which do not sufficiently reflect the harm suffered by victims of child sex abuse or protect the community from the risk of future harm.”
The draft laws also propose:
– Stopping courts from discounting sentences on the basis of good character, where this has been used to facilitate the crime
– Preventing children and other vulnerable witnesses from being cross-examined at committal proceedings
– New aggravated offences for abuse that involves subjecting the child to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or which causes a child’s death
– Making it illegal to groom third parties – such as parents or carers – for the purpose of procuring a child for sexual activity
– Criminalising the provision of websites that provide access to child abuse material online
– A presumption against bail for Commonwealth child sex offences that attract the highest maximum penalties