For release: Friday, November 23, 2012

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed an announcement by the Tasmanian government that it will introduce legislation to strengthen the defence of mistake as to age in relation to child sex offences.

Tasmania’s Attorney-General Brian Wightman said the new laws will include introducing a no defence age of 12 years old, limiting the circumstances in which an accused can rely on a defence of mistake as to age.

Under the new laws, an accused must show they have taken all reasonable steps to determine the age of the young person against whom they have sexually offended before they are able to use the defence of mistake.

ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown has applauded the changes.

“On the back of the Royal Commission into child abuse, the proposed amendment sends a strong message about the importance of protecting society’s most vulnerable.

“In the case of a prostituted 12-year-old Hobart girl the 100-plus men involved were not prosecuted. The proposed amendment would allow such cases to be more successfully prosecuted in future.

“ACL commends the government for introducing this important deterrent against child abuse into state law” Mr Brown said.