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Sex Offenders Registry Bill

Sex Offenders Registry Bill

Deborah Coddington
Wednesday, 18 May 2005
Press Releases - Crime & Justice

Yesterday my Sex Offenders Registry Bill was returned to the House. When I met with the Justice and Electoral Select Committee last week we intended to prepare a brief interim report, and to seek an extension of time. That would have enabled the release of official papers for submitters to consider before coming before the committee.

Unfortunately the committee thought they had until today to seek the extension, when in fact the report back date fell yesterday. I understand that the committee will support an application to the business committee for leave to recommit the Bill to the committee.

In light of the disturbance caused in Blackball in the last few days by a convicted paedophile who moved anonymously into the community, I believe it is timely to give the public an update on the status of my Private Member’s Bill.

In 2002, shortly after I entered Parliament, my Sex Offenders Registry Bill was drawn from the Ballot. It unanimously passed its first reading, and has been at the Justice and Electoral Select Committee ever since. The committee was urged by officials and government members to wait to see the results of the law changes to allow for supervision orders that can run for up to 10 years after an offender is released. They also urged delay while pilot information sharing studies ran. The wheels of legislation grind slowly when it’s a non-Government, non-urgent Bill.

However, progress has been made. The officials from the Ministry of Justice have reported to the Select Committee on a Dunedin information-sharing pilot, which has had mixed results.

Submissions have been made to the Committee, but have yet to be heard.
Now the Bill’s return has allowed those submissions and reports to be made public. Submitters have the opportunity to comment on the Ministry reports. This is somewhat unusual, but nevertheless an advantage for the public. I urge interested members to request the Parliamentary Library for copies of the reports.

To date the Government and the Select Committee members have treated me very fairly over this Bill. In fact, Government members, including the Minister of Justice, have indicated their support for the purpose of the Bill.

I could simply now press for a speedy vote on the second reading on the next Member’s Bill day, without waiting for more Select Committee work. On the other hand I am sure that it will be improved when submissions have been heard.

There is a risk that the Government could simply allow the Bill to lapse with the election. I believe the Committee would not have encouraged the work on this Bill that has gone in to it, and certainly would not have told me they were doing an interim report, if they expected to see it lapse. On that basis any decision now to let it lapse would be duplicitous.

Including the Sex Offenders Registry Bill in a carry-over motion will reinforce government commitments to a tough stance on sex offenders in the community. In light of the Labour Government’s repeated reassurances to the public that sex offending will not be tolerated, and following its recent toughening of the laws on child pornography, it would be deplorable now to renege on a two-year history of supporting this Sex Offenders Registry Bill through the House.

I have decided to trust that it will be carried over, and not to take advantage of this unexpected premature report back to press for an early House debate.


ENDS

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