Justice vs. Sex

So, I’m on the Sex Offenders Registry for eight years. What’s the bet there’ll be changes to legislation between now and then? Changes that get grandfathered into the current scheme and therefore apply to people already on the registry? Applying penalties retrospectively is something you generally just don’t do in law, but there’s a push for it when it comes to sex offences.

We’ve already seen it happen here in Victoria with the Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act 2009, which allows the courts to order a longer period of detention or supervision that will apply after the offender is released from prison. But that law was designed to help protect the community from serious offenders with a history of violent, predatory behaviour and little in the way of remorse. Whilst I disagree with retrospective punishment in principle, I can understand why this scheme may have been deemed a necessary trade off.

Chances are, though, that any changes to the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 would be applied to everyone on the registry, regardless of severity of the offence or the offender’s risk of re-offending. I anticipate two main pushes:

  1. To have the registry made public.
  2. To extend the term of registration for some or all offenders, to make it longer or even indefinite.

Spearheading this push is Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party. Hinch has a history of naming and shaming, earning him a host of supporters and multiple convictions for contempt of court.

When he announced his new political party, Fiona Patten spoke favourably of his entry into politics, and highlighted the opportunity for the Sex Party to work with him:

Fiona Patten, a friend of Mr Hinch’s and the Sex Party’s first Victorian Upper House MP, indicated there would likely be a preference swap between her party and the broadcaster.
“Derryn and I are in furious agreement on a number of issues and I think we will work together in the upcoming [federal] election,” she said.
Ms Patten said the Sex Party did not have the same policy as Mr Hinch’s on naming and shaming sex offenders but they were “on the same page” as “pro-choice, anti-government censorship, the right of adults to view what they want on the internet and dying with dignity”.

I’m a fan of Fiona Patten and the Sex Party. And honestly, I agree with a range of positions held by Derryn Hinch, such as his support for euthanasia and abortion rights. But I disagree that a public sex offenders registry would increase public safety, particularly if it’s an instrument that gets used indiscriminately.

I’m pleased to hear the Sex Party does not hold the same position on naming and shaming, but the potential for a preference deal increases the chances of the Justice Party gaining some power in Parliament. It’s going to be an interesting election next year. And even if he’s not successful this time around, there’s always the next one.

Nine months down. Seven years and three months left to survive. Hopefully.


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