New laws to limit sex offenders' activities
The ACT government is set to pass laws next week cracking down on the supervision of child-sex offenders.
But a political row has broken out over the legislation, with the ACT Greens claiming Attorney-General Simon Corbell took the idea for the laws from the cross-bench party.
Mr Corbell has rejected the accusation saying the Greens never made a formal move in the Assembly to have the laws changed when they first raised the matter seven years ago.
The new laws would give greater powers to monitor the activities of convicted offenders in the community and allow them to apply for ''prohibition orders, to restrain offenders from activities that might pose re-offending risks''.
The introduction of prohibition orders would bring the territory into line with NSW, the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia.
Under the government's proposal, breaches of prohibition orders would leave sex offenders facing up to five years behind bars or fined as much as $55,000.
The bill will also increase the maximum penalty for failing to report a change of details from two years or $22,000 to five years and $55,000.
ACT Greens justice spokesman Shane Rattenbury confirmed his party would support the bill, but said that the Greens thought of the idea before Mr Corbell.
''The bill creates new powers which will help police prevent child-sex crimes,'' Mr Rattenbury said.
''The Greens strongly believe in this kind of evidence-based approach which is the best way to tackle crime.
''These new powers are based on evidence and common sense and will allow police to better protect children from sex crimes.''
Mr Rattenbury produced a letter, written in 2005 by his predecessor Deb Foskey to former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, asking for a stricter supervision regime to be imposed on offenders.
''The powers were proposed seven years ago by the ACT Greens but were dismissed by the government at the time,'' Mr Rattenbury said.
''Now the government has changed their position, which the Greens will support.
''Seven years ago my Greens predecessor, Deb Foskey, told the government they were creating a toothless monitoring system that didn't allow the police to intervene when they had evidence a child was in danger.
''Her comments were dismissed at the time but we are certainly pleased the government has changed their position and we will be supporting the new laws.''
But Mr Corbell denied the government had drawn the idea for its bill from an old Greens' proposal.
''They [the laws] are not the same at all,'' he said.
''The Greens wanted those types of provisions to apply to sex offenders who offended against adults, not just against children - there's a very significant difference.
''Secondly, the Greens didn't actually propose any laws or move any legislation or amendments seven years ago, they made some comments in a speech.''
Mr Corbell said, if passed, the laws would give police authority to seek orders forbidding offenders from going to places where children might be present, or from participating in activities that could bring them into contact with children.