Queensland priests will not be protected by the seal of confession and must report child abuse or face criminal charges.
State parliament passed new laws on Tuesday to introduce hefty penalties including lengthy prison terms for people found guilty of child sexual abuse crimes.
‘These tough laws herald a new era of delivering justice to victims, while sending a clear message that child sexual abuse is never OK,’ Queensland Attorney-General and Justice Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
‘They create a new offence of failing to report and failing to protect a child from institutional child sexual abuse.
Queensland priests will not be protected by the seal of confession and must report child abuse or face criminal charges (stock image)
‘The new laws also clarify that priests will not be able to rely on the seal of confession to avoid the reporting of abuse.’
The bill is in line with a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
One Nation MP Steve Andrew argued against the bill, saying it sets a ‘dangerous precedent’ which would lead to other professions, including lawyers, doctors and journalists, being forced to reveal confidential information.
‘Other professions will eventually be included once we set this precedent.’
The law would also make it an offence to supply or create a child sex doll, with penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
Tuesday’s parliamentary debate covered numerous issues and followed Monday’s budget update in which the Palaszczuk government announced plans to increase COVID-19 spending to $11 billion to kickstart the state’s stagnant economy.
‘These tough laws herald a new era of delivering justice to victims, while sending a clear message that child sexual abuse is never OK,’ Queensland Attorney-General and Justice Minister Yvette D’Ath said
It wants to borrow $4 billion to fund 19 economic and health measures including $500 million each for businesses and a renewable energy fund.
Shadow treasurer Tim Mander has labelled the appropriations bill as an ‘election slush fund’ and said taxpayers would be slugged with repaying the debt.
‘The treasurer did not rule out new taxes going forward,’ Mr Mander said.
‘It is obvious that their plan in the future is what all Labor governments do – tax Queenslanders.’
The Sunshine State goes to the polls on October 31.