A CHILD protection advocacy group has threatened to launch a social media campaign to have a Tasmanian defence lawyer thrown off a committee reviewing the Children, Young Persons and Families Act.
Bravehearts Tasmania chairman Stephen Noone said the appointment of Australian Lawyers Alliance president Greg Barns to the legislative amendment review reference committee was "offensive" to victims of child sexual assault.
"Given his presence, and what he represents, it's offensive to advocacy groups and survivors of child sexual assault that he would have a presence on that group," Mr Noone said.
Mr Barns has acted as legal counsel for people accused of sexually assaulting children, including infamous paedophile Dennis Ferguson.
After Mr Ferguson's death earlier this month Mr Barns wrote an opinion piece for a Tasmanian newspaper that argued against the vilification of people convicted of a child sex crime and said victims of child sexual abuse were "biased" on the issue.
In a letter to Mr Noone and Beyond Abuse spokesman Steve Fisher yesterday, Mr Barns apologised for any concern his column had caused, saying he did not intend to undermine victims or their right to comment on public policy.
"Can I firstly assure you that I, like you and your organisations, abhor child abuse of any kind, in particular sexual abuse," he said.
"While you and I may disagree on issues around sentencing of sex offenders and how they are treated within the community, we all share a common aim.
"That is to ensure that all children and adults are safe from sexual abuse."
Mr Noone said Bravehearts wrote to Children's Minister Michelle O'Byrne last week requesting Mr Barns removal from the committee but was told he would remain.
The committee members and chairwoman, child and family safety expert Dr Maria Harries, were announced in November.
Mr Noone said he was not concerned Mr Barns would sway the committee to recommend more lenient treatment for sex offenders or concerned that child advocates would not be represented.
Liberal spokeswoman for children Jackie Petrusma supported Bravehearts' call to have Mr Barns removed.