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Gov't consultation paper sent to premiers

Proposed royal commission is likely to go further than any inquiry conducted in Australia before, due to geographical scale and time abuse occurred.

PT2M26S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29mzi 620 349

A GREENS MP has renewed his bid to introduce NSW legislation that would allow victims of sexual abuse to sue the Catholic Church.

Under state laws that have been in place since 1936, the Catholic Church does not exist as an individual legal entity.

Now that a royal commission into the abuse scandal has been announced, David Shoebridge, pictured, wants victims to be offered a legal remedy and have larger compensation payments made available to them.

"We have achieved the royal commission, so now it is essential that we press forward with this legislation" ... Greens MP David Shoebridge.

"We have achieved the royal commission, so now it is essential that we press forward with this legislation" ... Greens MP David Shoebridge. Photo: Simon Alekna

''We have achieved the royal commission, so now it is essential that we press forward with this legislation. It needs to be part of the commission's terms of reference,'' Mr Shoebridge said on Monday.

He hopes the Justice for Victims Bill will be put to a conscience vote in the first half of 2013.

Under the 1936 law, the Catholic Church's property trust is separated from its pastoral duties, which means it can't be sued directly.

Mr Shoebridge said the Catholic Church was the only religious institution protected from civil suits in this way.

''Every day this law remains on the statute books is another day when victims' rights are diminished and the church remains a protected entity,'' he said.

The bill would also allow a two-year reprieve from laws limiting the amount of time that can pass between an offence and it being reported, to allow victims of historical abuse to come forward.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has previously stated that any suggestion it used the property trust to avoid compensating victims was ''simply untrue''.

AAP