Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 13 February 2014



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 13 February 2014

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Parliamentary Record 10


Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Hansard Office

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Thursday 13 February 2014 3395 No one in this House would deny the gutwrenching criminality that child pornography represents. It is filth, plain and simple. All governments strive to stamp it out with the efforts of their law enforcement personnel. I am not yet a mother, but as a regular visitor to my primary schools in Drysdale and having young relatives myself, the damage done to victims of child abuse is simply incomprehensible. There is also the perpetual cycle of damage that results from child abuse material, also known as CAM. Recent stories from the Philippines send chills down your spine entire villages where the child pornography production industry is more lucrative than fishing or farming. Behind old wooden doors in small wooden shacks, children aged from just three years young are being directed by family members, including their parents, to perform depraved acts in front of Internet webcams. These are instantly broadcast into the homes of paying paedophiles around the world. Parents are walking their seven-year-old daughters to their neighbours hut, also fitted with a webcam, where they are repeatedly raped day in and day out. These images and videos are broadcast to the devices of depraved paedophiles willing to finance the unthinkable. In a region where the average daily wage is around $7 and poverty is rife, the prospect of $100 per broadcast reigns supreme. The village elders ignore or participate, and the family needs the money, so the crimes go unnoticed. The International Justice Mission, based in Washington, has described online child sex abuse as a significant and emerging threat. With extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high-speed Internet and a vast and relatively wealthy overseas customer base, organised crime groups are continuing to expand their child abuse operations around the world. The perpetrators of these horrendous crimes are just as much the consumers around the world, as are the villagers powering on their webcams. These consumers come from all walks of life. It has become almost the norm to read about Australians, even Territorians, being charged, prosecuted and convicted of the possession, production or distribution of child abuse material. Northern Territory police, in conjunction with their interstate and federal colleagues, do an amazing job in tracking down and charging offenders. It is truly difficult work and must take a terrible toll. I cannot imagine going to work every day to sit in front of a computer, impersonating a young girl or boy and receiving sexual approaches from hundreds of online perverts. It must be an extremely tough day at the office, cataloguing thousands of child abuse material images from a seized device, according to severity, which may include age, sexual content or level of violence. It is truly unthinkable work, but our hard-working law enforcement personnel do the job and make a real difference. Each arrest, seizure and search warrant executed is another dent in the child pornography business and flows on, hopefully, to reduce the demand and, ultimately, help children like those in the Philippines. These are children who, without families overcome by the allure of financial gain, will be playing in the streets, going to school and living as children, rather than being sexualised objects of depravity. I commend Northern Territory police for their efforts, as I hope every member of this House will, and hope they continue and become stronger in their efforts. It is for these reasons I wanted to support this bill when I was first informed of it by the Attorney-Generals office. Obviously this bill in itself will not stop child pornography. However, it is yet another tool for police to reduce their administrative burden and will allow them to focus on the real job at hand. As the Attorney-General outlined in his second reading speech, the bill expands the powers of the courts and NT police regarding the forfeiture and destruction of child abuse material. This bill amends section 125B(6) of the Criminal Code Act to allow a court to order the forfeiture and destruction of child abuse material in any circumstances where there is a finding of guilt for an offence involving that material. Currently the court only has this power where it records a conviction for such an offence. This means if a person goes to trial and is found not guilty, the court does not have the power, under this section, to order destruction of the child abuse material. This poses a problem because a person may be found not guilty due to issues relating to proof of possession, even though the material in question is clearly illegal. The Criminal Code Act and the Police Administration Act do not contain forfeiture or destruction provisions that can be used by police in circumstances where there is no finding of guilt in relation to the child abuse material, or where no charges are laid. This issue must be rectified, as child abuse material is illegal for anyone to possess or distribute, unless it is possessed for a law enforcement or medical purpose, and should be destroyed when seized by police. Circumstances where police may not lay charges include, for example, where child abuse material