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Criminal Law Consolidation (Dishonest Communication with Children) Amendment Bill

Second Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:39): I rise in support of this bill. The bill is very simple, in that it creates an offence to lie about your age when communicating with a child online. There is also a secondary greater offence to lie about your age with the intention to commit an offence against the child. The bill is as a result of the tragic death of Carly Ryan in 2007. Carly was 15 when a 50-year-old man pretended to be a 20-year-old American called Brandon. Brandon did not exist and the man, Garry Francis Newman, became enraged when Carly refused his sexual advances and murdered her.

Carly's story has been well documented, so I have not gone into the particulars here. Since her death, Carly's mother, Sonya, has worked tirelessly to promote online safety and for this law, Carly's law, to pass through parliament. I thank Ms Ryan for her efforts and can only hope that the work we do will honour the memory of her daughter. Increasingly, children are getting online from a younger and younger age. I have witnessed two year olds being very proficient in unlocking and navigating iPads in order to bring up Peppa Pig videos.

Children often think they know best, are bulletproof and do not need protection. At the same time, there seems to be a growing cohort of perverts who are using the internet to facilitate their sick sexual desires. Children are often innocent and naive to the lies that these predators tell them. It is not the fault of the children as they have not yet been exposed to such matters. The fault lies entirely and squarely with those who deliberately deceive them for their own personal gain. This bill will make it easier to prosecute those with nefarious intentions.

As members may be aware, I introduced a very similar bill in 2013, which had general support from both Labor and Liberal; however, the bill lapsed due to prorogation. It is a pity it has taken so long for this parliament to see another version of this bill. However, given that the federal government passed similar laws last year, I commend the government for introducing them into this parliament. It is better late than never.