Liberal Senator for Tasmania Claire Chandler has welcomed the introduction to Parliament of mandatory sentencing for child sex offender legislation and called on Tasmanian Labor to reverse their previous opposition to guaranteed jail time for paedophiles.

“The Morrison Government is delivering on another key election promise by tabling a bill in Parliament today that introduces mandatory minimum jail terms for serious child sex offenders, as well as a new maximum life penalty for the most serious Commonwealth offences, and a presumption against bail to help keep offenders in custody while they face trial,” Senator Chandler said.

The Bill introduces minimum terms of five to seven years for the most serious child sex offences. This represents approximately 25 per cent of the available maximum penalty for such offences.

“It has recently been revealed that 28 per cent of child sex offenders convicted of federal offences last year were not sentenced to a single day in jail. That’s totally unacceptable and out of step with community expectations – paedophiles should be hit with the full force of the law and put behind bars where they can’t harm children,” Senator Chandler said.

“Labor didn’t support these laws in the last Commonwealth Parliament and just last week Labor Senators went out of their way to criticise mandatory sentences for child sex offenders and argue against their introduction. Despite this, I hope that common sense will finally prevail and Labor will support the legislation introduced today.

Senator Chandler said that with the Morrison Government strengthening laws against child sex offenders at a federal level to protect children, Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White should match her recent rhetoric with action by contacting the Premier to offer Labor’s support to implement similar mandatory sentences at the state level.

“Rebecca White has admitted that repeatedly voting with the Greens was a mistake, and there has been no bigger mistake made by Labor than blocking mandatory sentences against the wishes of victim groups and the community.

“This is an opportunity to strengthen protections for children against abuse at both state and federal levels and Labor should support the Liberals’ strong action against sex offenders.”