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




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Hansard Office

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Thursday 13 February 2014 3396 is found on lost or abandoned items police give the example of USB sticks which are abandoned at airports or where police cannot determine ownership or possession of an item. This could be the case where a USB stick is found in the common area of a share house, or child abuse material is found on a public computer in a library, workplace or educational facility. I can recall the story of an iPad that was found in a park in Palmerston. It was full of child abuse material, but no offender was ever located. The bill inserts two new sections into the Criminal Code Act, section 125AB and section 125AC. Section 125AB allows the police officer of senior rank commander or above to order the forfeiture and destruction of child abuse material, an article containing child abuse material or an article the officer reasonably believes contains child abuse material. An article includes electronic equipment such as an iPad or iPhone. The reasonably believes provision is necessary as child abuse material is often hidden on an electronic device, is subject to password protection or encryption software or cannot be accessed due to virus programming. Section 125AC provides a police officer of senior rank a commander or above with the discretion to return an article containing child abuse material to a lawful owner if the officer is satisfied the material has been completely and permanently erased from that article. This discretion does not extend to child abuse material that is not contained in an article, such as magazines and photographs. Although I do not believe any person who has child abuse material in their possession deserves their device back, I understand the purpose of this provision. It is important that police have the power to destroy child abuse material, as well as items such as laptops, iPads and mobile phones containing child abuse material, as in some instances it is not possible to clear an item of child abuse material so it can be returned. I understand from my briefings on this bill that, in many cases, iPads and, generally, other Apple devices can never be completely cleaned of child abuse material. Current legislation would not allow the device to be thrown into the furnace or hit with a sledge hammer without the recording of a conviction. These changes will allow destruction in any circumstances where the material exists or is likely to exist. Police indicate they have more than 10 devices in their possession at the moment that cannot be destroyed due to this gap in the legislation. I commend the Attorney-General for bringing this legislation before the House, which will destroy these portals of filth and allow police to focus on tracking down and prosecuting these perverted criminals. Mr WOOD (Nelson): Madam Speaker, I also support this Criminal Code Amendment (Child Abuse Material) Bill. These are commonsense changes, to make sure this kind of material does not escape being destroyed. It is obvious the government has taken some advice on this, as in some areas there are loopholes which have allowed this sort of material, which none of us, as the member for Drysdale just said, want in our society. It is a scourge on our society. By having this legislation, we increase ways we can remove this material from our society. The amendments are commonsense. They have also fixed some loopholes that have occurred in the case of someone being found guilty but not convicted, which is probably fairly rare in these circumstances. Madam Speaker, I reinstate my support for this maybe small, but very important, bill. Mr ELFERINK (Attorney-General and Justice): Madam Speaker, I start by putting the leader of opposition businesss mind at rest. He asked a question and was then very careful to try to reiterate that, of course, he supports this bill. It is very fair that the leader of the opposition business asked the question. I will not engage in any sort of political skulduggery to embarrass him because he asked a question. He asked legitimate questions, and this is a House of review. This is one of the most simple and straightforward conceptual bills I have ever brought before this House, indeed, which has ever been brought into this House. Basically, as I understand it, the member for Fannie Bays question was in relation to child abuse material and the decision as to when it was determined to be disposed of. Of course, he was suggesting we ensure it is not done too quickly, because we may, at some later stage, find a perpetrator, and you would like to have the evidence on board. That is good, sound and sage advice. Let me reassure the member for Fannie Bay the systems in place will be designed to make sure we protect evidence if there is any prospect a person will be brought to trial for this offence. I will digress briefly to consider the ancient disease of leprosy. Leprosy was a ghastly disease which saw sufferers cast out. In fact, there are biblical as well as historical references to it. An act of humility in the biblical reference was to, in some way, walk among the lepers. The lepers of old were victims of a disease which was