Labor weighs pedophile mandatory penalties
LABOR is weighing up whether to support mandatory prison sentences for pedophiles, while lawyers warn federal politicians against interfering with judicial discretion.
Anthony Albanese said people who engaged in vile acts against children should have the book thrown at them.
But the opposition leader is concerned compulsory penalties could have a perverse effect.
"Sometimes what it can lead to is less convictions rather than more," Mr Albanese told 5AA Radio on Wednesday.
"Because judges or juries will make the view that because it's mandatory sentencing, all of the circumstances can't be factored in."
The coalition government wants predators who commit serious crimes against children to face mandatory minimum sentences.
The most depraved offenders could face life behind bars, while repeat offenders would find it much harder to get bail.
Several new offences would also be created, targeting those who administer websites that distribute child sex abuse material.
The vast majority of child sex offences are state crimes, so the proposed shake-up of Commonwealth laws is largely aimed at pedophiles who offend online or overseas.
The coalition tried to pass similar legislation in 2017, but it was knocked back after Labor baulked at the inflexible nature of the mandatory sanctions included in the bill.
Labor generally opposes minimum mandatory terms, but has made some exceptions at both state and federal levels.
"We'll look at the circumstances and seek advice," Mr Albanese said.
"We'll examine the legislation. We haven't seen it yet."
Law Council of Australia president Arthur Moses said child sex offenders deserved the full force of the law, but mandatory sentencing opened the door for unintended consequences.
"Sentencing is not a one-size-fits-all exercise, but this is the effect mandatory sentencing has," Mr Moses said.
"For this reason court determinations in such matters - which take into account all the factors of the offending and mitigating circumstances - are vital.
"Judges should not be reduced to being the rubber stamps of predetermined sentences."
The legislation, to be introduced to parliament next Wednesday, will not apply to offenders aged under 18.