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Govt rejects Labor's "publicity stunt" on pedophile laws

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Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas’s plans to introduce legislation to keep notorious pedophile Colin Humphrys in jail has been described as a “publicity stunt” by the State Government, which says the previous Labor administration failed to act in 2016 after a similar case emerged.

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Malinauskas says he plans to introduce a Private Members’ Bill tomorrow which will require an offender to demonstrate they are willing and able to control their sexual instincts before a court is able to grant their release on licence.

It comes after the Supreme Court ordered the release of pedophile Colin Charles Humphrys, who has served multiple jail terms for abusing young boys dating back to the 1980s.

The decision to release Humphrys went against the advice of the Parole Board, which recommended he be kept behind bars after warnings from psychiatrists there was a risk he would re-offend.

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed Humphrys’ release last week, with the Supreme Court yet to hand down a decision.

The case is remarkably similar to that of pedophile Gavin Shaun Shuster, who was ordered to be released by the Supreme Court and only stayed behind bars after a similar DPP appeal in 2016.

At the time, then Attorney-General John Rau declared that he would toughen the laws, if necessary.

His successor Vickie Chapman said today that the Government was preparing its own legislation and warned against rushing through changes without first hearing the reasons behind the impending appeal decision.

She said Labor should have taken up a Liberal offer in 2016 to revise the laws to prevent this situation emerging again.

“We think this is such a serious matter – we did back in 2016 but we weren’t able to do anything about it,” Chapman told FIVEaa radio this morning.

“We think we do need to close some loopholes and tighten the law in this regard. We’re disappointed they haven’t before. Many people have been released from custody under the previous government and it’s disappointing that it took this case for them finally to wake up and realise the seriousness of this.

“Nevertheless it appears from their announcement that they want to issue a notice for legislation. We are working on that at present and that’s a matter which we want to get right rather than just shove it through Parliament in five minutes.”

Chapman said that given the appeal against Humphrys was heard last week, he would remain in jail for four to six weeks, regardless of whether the DPP’s appeal was successful.

This meant there was time for legislation to be enacted which would cover not only the Humphrys case, but other cases where pedophiles could be released despite being unwilling or unable to control their sexual urges.

“That’s the critical issue here,” Chapman said.

“… there are something like 27 people who are in custody at the moment who on anyone’s assessment would have some concerns about their release into the community and whether they’re gradually remedying their situation or not is a matter we rely on the Parole Board and others to do.”

Malinauskas said his bill would prevent pedophiles who were “unwilling or unable to control their sexual instincts” from being released.

His proposal would also ensure that if a sex offender released on parole breaches their release conditions, they are returned to custody and unable to apply for release for seven years.

The changes would also require the Parole Board to support any release before it could be considered.

Malinauskas said it would be “madness” to “sit around and wait” for the court’s decision on the appeal.

“If Ms Chapman and the Premier Mr Marshall decide they want to get this law fixed, we can do it this week,” he told ABC radio.

Chapman said she would work with the Opposition on tightening the laws, but it was “extremely unikely” the Government would support Malinauskas’s bill.

“In the absence of actually having the (appeal) determination and making sure that what we do do is effective, then that’s really just a publicity stunt,” she said.

– with AAP

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