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New SA child sex offending laws ‘dangerous’, advocacy group says

A proposal by the South Australian government to lock up repeat child sex offenders “forever” has been slammed by the Australian Lawyers Alliance as “draconian” and “dangerous”.

user iconNaomi Neilson 29 January 2024 Big Law
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Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) national president Greg Barns said the law changes will not only be expensive but will also lead to more alleged perpetrators entering pleas of not guilty and will force victim-survivors to endure the trauma of a criminal trial.

“These new laws will result in injustice and are a dangerous breach of the separation of powers by interfering with judicial discretion.

“Importantly, there is no evidence to suggest such laws will reduce offending,” Mr Barns said, referring to the SA government’s failure to consult with the legal community about the proposal.


While there has been no wording on the bill released as of yet, Premier Peter Malinauskas told media that “dangerous repeat offender paedophiles” would have to meet stringent tests to prove “they are willing to control their sexual interests” before release.

“That is to say, they will be in jail indefinitely,” Mr Malinauskas said.

If they do pass these tests, the accused would then be electronically monitored “forever” to ensure they will not reoffend.

Mr Barns said the laws are a “dangerous attack” on the separation of powers and, in restricting the discretion of courts “in such an extreme way”, it “undermines the rule of law and integrity of the legal system”.

He also added the law change fails to consider that it could mean young people are “locked up for life”, and those offenders who committed offences many years ago but are now “fully rehabilitated” will not be able to have that taken into account by the courts.

“Electronic monitoring and detention for life are expensive,” he said.

“Evidence shows that offending reduces as people age – what is the point of electronic monitoring of an infirm 80-year-old?”

Mr Barns said that around the world, governments’ “so-called ‘tough on crime’ sentencing initiatives” have had “zero impact” as a deterrent, and South Australia’s “draconian” law change may be no different.