We will never give up – that’s the message from abuse victims after a bill to introduce mandatory minimum sentences for child sex offenders in Tasmania failed to pass.
Survivor and founder of the non-profit support group Beyond Abuse, Steven Fisher, said people across the country were “disappointed” and “emotional” on Thursday after the bill was voted down on Wednesday.
A long-time campaigner for the rights of survivors, Mr Fisher said it should have been an “easy decision” to introduce mandatory sentencing.
“It’s something they were well aware that victims supported and advocacy groups supported,” he said.
“The bottom line is the Tasmanian community supported it so why aren’t they just giving the public what they really want?
“I really question the motives of those not supporting the bill. The reality of it is that this is too important an issue to use as a point scoring exercise against the opposition, it’s something that is so horrendous and has such a terrible human cost.”
Mr Fisher said he had been in contact with survivors right across the country who were “watching Tasmania”, awaiting an outcome.
“Tasmania had the chance to lead the way in getting tough,” he said.
“It’s disappointing ...some survivors are really emotional today.”
Beyond Abuse had previously forwarded a letter to the Legislative Council urging its member to support the bill.
Despite this week’s news, Mr Fisher said they would not stop lobbying for change.
“We won’t give up, that’s one thing that will never happen,” he said.
In a similar reaction, Tasmania Police Association president Pat Allen said “I hope people remember this when it comes time to vote at the next election”.
The move has been welcomed, however, by the state’s lawyers.
Law Society of Tasmania president Rohan Foon said there was no evidence that mandatory sentences deter crimes of this nature.
“Our view is that the best person placed to hand down an appropriate sentence is the judge, who hears all the facts in relation to the offence,” Mr Foon said.
“The community should have confidence in our highly skilled judges.”