Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston speaks to the media after Brett Peter Cowan was found guilty of murdering Sunshine Coast boy Daniel Morcombe.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston speaks to the media after Brett Peter Cowan was found guilty of murdering Sunshine Coast boy Daniel Morcombe. David Stuart

Coalition promises new laws to protect kids from paedophiles

BRAVEHEARTS founder Hetty Johnston has thrown her full support behind a Baird government plan to increase sentences for child rapists from 25 years to life.

Premier Mike Baird announced people guilty of having sexual intercourse with a child aged under 10 would face life behind bars if the Coalition was re-elected.

"Sentencing is a reflection of community expectations and the judiciary must honour that, otherwise it just chips away at the integrity of the legislation," Mrs Johnston said.

"Let's not forget that children are at the centre of all of this and the only way to 100% guarantee their safety is by preventing access from dangerous offenders."

Mrs Johnston urged other states to introduce similar legislation.

The proposed package would add 13 child assault offences to the state's non-parole scheme.

It would increase the non-parole period for anyone guilty of having sex with a child between 10 and 14 years from two years to seven years.

Mr Baird said specialist judges would be appointed to deal with sexual assault cases, and qualified "children's champions" would support child witnesses throughout the trial process.

"The NSW Government has already taken support for vulnerable survivors of historic child sexual assault to a new level, including a raft of measures in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse," he said.

Christian Democrats leader Reverend Fred Nile applauded the move, but argued a seven-year sentence was too lenient for offenders who had sex with children aged 10-14 years.

"Many people would still think that seven years is still inadequate for such horrific crime. I urge the premier to increase the sentence to 10 years," he said.

Child sexual assault trials make up nearly 60% of all sexual assault trials before the NSW District Court.



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