ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says she has an open mind about whether mandatory minimum sentences should be introduced for child sex offenders.
Ms Gallagher was heckled by protesters on Thursday when she accepted a petition calling for tougher penalties for paedophilia offences.
About 13,500 people signed the petition in the wake of a man being sentenced to 7½ years in jail for sexually assaulted a three-year-old-girl at the Belconnen Library.
Shane Williams, 40, had been convicted of offences against children five times in the past.
The petition presented to Ms Gallagher was started by the group Canberra Mums.
Ms Gallagher appeared surprised but smiled when some of the protesters began yelling at her outside the Legislative Assembly building in Civic Square.
"We need to have tougher sentencing, we need to track them,'' Belconnen mother Carly Norrie screamed at Ms Gallagher.
The Chief Minister responded that the sentence imposed on Williams would be appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions and promised to consider the petition.
Ms Norrie said she regretted behaving so aggressively but was determined to stand up for the family of the girl who had been assaulted.
"They need a voice and apparently I'm that voice and I'll stand up,'' she said.
Ms Gallagher later said she would meet again with representatives of the protest group and carefully consider whether mandatory minimum sentencing should be introduced
"I haven't formed a view in relation to this matter,'' she said.
"I think I go into it with a relatively open mind to have a look at and examine whether or not there is a case for it.''
Ms Gallagher was concerned that mandatory sentencing could threaten the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary.
"I think minimum mandatory sentencing starts blurring the lines between the legislature and the judiciary and the separation of powers argument,'' she said.
Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson said the Legislative Assembly should step in if judges failed to meet community expectations when sentencing criminals.
"I think the response from the government, from the Attorney-General Simon Corbell and Katy Gallagher is weak,'' Mr Hanson said.
"It's been a confused message.
"The reality is that if the judiciary are not meeting the community's expectations then it is time for politicians to step in and make sure the expectations are being met.''
Mr Hanson said the community expected substantial sentences to be imposed on repeat offenders.
Last month, Shane Williams was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court to 7½ years' jail, with a non-parole period of 4½ years, for assaulting a three-year-old girl in a public library while her mother was just metres away.
Williams, who has a 20-year history of crimes against children, was walking to a police station, when he entered the Belconnen Library to go to the toilet in September last year.
The sentence included a term of imprisonment for a racist bashing.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will appeal the sentence, arguing that it is "manifestly inadequate''.
A Legislative Assembly committee is conducting an inquiry into sentencing in the ACT's court.
Ms Gallagher said she was reluctant to respond to an individual case
"I'm really reluctant to just respond to an individual case where there are strong emotions attached to it,'' she said.
"I think we need to sit down and have a look at whether there is a case for minimum mandatory sentencing, which seems to be what this group is after.''