Fines for repeat off-field offenders set to double to at least $100,000

“Part of the future is a close working relationship with the RLPA. Clint Newton is the right CEO to partner with the ARLC/NRL to grow the game.”


The focus at Rugby League Central will turn to harsher deterrents to curb off-field incidents after a string of negative headlines during the off season. To that end, the current maximum fine of $50,000 is expected to increase by at least double, with the issue set to be an agenda topic at next week’s scheduled ARLC meeting.

“We want to send a message that it’s a privilege to play in the NRL,” V’landys said. “When you play in the NRL you are a role model and need to act accordingly.

“I want to stress that 99 per cent of footballers do the right thing. I don’t want every player tarnished. We’re not doing this for the 99 per cent, we’re doing this for the one per cent that let the 99 per cent down.

“The players I’ve been involved with are great people, they do things like going to kids cancer wards and never look for any publicity.

“That’s all tarnished by that one percent.”


The NRL handed NSW and Broncos prop Payne Haas a $50,000 fine, as well as a three-game suspension, for verbally abusing police last month. However, players face the prospect of paying an even bigger price in the future if they run into trouble off the field.

During the NRL-RLPA dispute, the arbitrator ruled that the governing body can change any of its rules as it sees fit, so long as the conditions brokered under the collective bargaining agreement remained intact.

“I don’t care what anyone says, no one likes losing money. No one likes being fined,” V’landys said. “We don’t have to go to the maximum, but we need to have something there that will be a pretty big deterrent.”

The NRL is close to announcing a sanction for Corey Norman after the Dragons playmaker was involved in a fight in a Cronulla laneway last month. A punishment will be handed down before a new maximum fine is introduced.

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Cricket Australia says Indian cricketers were racially abused at SCG, but offenders have not been found

Cricket Australia has confirmed Indian players were racially abused during the third Test at the SCG, but says it does not yet know who was responsible.

Senior Indian players spoke to officials after day three of the Sydney Test and an official complaint was lodged over alleged abuse received by Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah.

A second alleged incident on day four led to play being halted for nine minutes after Siraj spoke to umpires about comments from the crowd.

Cricket Australia (CA) launched an investigation after day four.

On Wednesday, CA released an update, saying it had submitted a report to the International Cricket Council into crowd behaviour at the SCG.

“CA confirms that members of the Indian cricket team were subjected to racial abuse (at the SCG),” the organisation’s head of integrity and security, Sean Carroll, said in a statement.

“CA’s own investigation into the matter remains open, with CCTV footage, ticketing data and interviews with spectators still being analysed in an attempt to locate those responsible.

“Spectators who are found to have breached CA’s anti-harassment code face lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.”

Play was halted on day four in Sydney as India’s Mohammed Siraj complained about comments made by spectators.(Supplied: Fox Sports)

However, Cricket Australia said its investigators had concluded a number of spectators who were filmed and photographed by the media near the end of play on day four were not involved in racist behaviour.

CA apologised to the Indian team as hosts of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series.

NSW Police also issued a statement on Tuesday, referring to its own investigation of complaints from India.

“About 3pm on 10 January 2021, a cricketer indicated to match officials racially based comments had been made towards him,” the statement said.

“A number of males were spoken with at the time.

“Since 10 January police have continued inquiries, speaking with several people allegedly involved, as well as a number of witnesses who were present in the area at the time.”

“Police found no evidence to support any prosecution for any offence.

“As such the police investigation has been finalised.

“However, should anyone possess information which would support any such allegation, that should be brought to the attention of police.”

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GOOD BOY: Officer Yogi sniffed out offenders during paw patrol

POLICE Dog Yogi showed his prowess in tracking down alleged offenders and helped to keep the Northern Rivers safe once again.

Officers from Richmond Police District will allege that shortly after midnight on Monday, January 4, a number of young persons had gained access to a property on Stapleton Ave, Casino, where they stole personal items, including car keys belonging to the 91-year-old male occupant.


Richmond Police District canine officer Yogi.

The youths aged 13 and 16 allegedly stole the occupants vehicle and left it unattended in Summerland Way, Casino.

Police located the vehicle a short time later where they established a perimeter and called for the assistance of the Police Dog Unit.

Police Dog Yogi picked up the scent and took his handler on an extensive track which led straight to the young persons.

The young persons were arrested and taken to Casino Police Station to be charged.

The 16-year-old was charged with offences including aggravated enter dwelling, Take and Drive conveyance without consent of owner, Possess housebreaking implements, Never licensed person drive vehicle on road, and larceny.

He has been Bail refused and set to appear before Casino Children’s Court on January 13, 2021.

The 13-year-old was charged with Aggravated enter dwelling, Larceny, and Be carried in conveyance taken without consent of owner.

He was granted conditional bail and set to appear again before Casino Children’s Court on the January 20.

Officers thanked Police Dog Yogi for his invaluable assistance.

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Dozens arrested as NT Police target domestic violence offenders in Darwin over holidays

Police have arrested 58 people over the holidays in the Darwin region alone, during a crackdown on domestic violence following a 17 per cent spike in order breaches in the Northern Territory during 2020.

Operation Sherman was run by NT Police from December 14 until January 3 and resulted in 48 new domestic violence orders (DVOs) being served and 118 victim support assessments.

Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Warren Scott led the operation and said police targeted “repeat and high-risk domestic violence offenders”.

“We need to try and educate these offenders on the responsibilities in regards to DVOs,” he said.

During the operation, one 25-year-old man received 11 charges following two domestic violence incidents — including threat to kill, aggravated assault and going armed in public.

Staff at the Dawn House shelter in Darwin have seen the severity of injuries from domestic violence victims worsen.(ABC)

Charges were also laid against a 53-year-old man on New Year’s Eve after a woman was stabbed in an attack that left her with a punctured her lung and significant blood loss.

Senior Sergeant Scott said the operation used police data to identify repeat domestic violence offenders and victims so they could visit them at their homes.

He said they had conducted 226 patrols of known “hotspots”, which included residential addresses and public areas.

“With going to the residential addresses, it’s not just purely for DVO compliance. We are also there to try and provide education, check on people’s welfare and try to encompass quite a few things in the one visit,” he said.

“There are arrest targets for serious DV-related offending, [and for] people with outstanding domestic violence warrants and the service of domestic violence orders.”

Local shelter ‘absolutely at capacity’

Senior Sergeant Scott said Aboriginal community police officers were also providing local organisations education and training on how to provide support and refer people on to the correct services.

A picture of the Darwin CBD police station.
The operation was run for three weeks in the Darwin region.

It is something that is sorely needed, according to the team at the local women and children’s shelter.

Dawn House Women and Children’s Shelter team leader Nicky Fearn said they had been stretched trying to cope with demand over the past few months.

“We have noticed there has been a spike in demand for accommodation, domestic violence order legal issues, medical issues. Everything thing has become more intense.”

Severity of injuries worsening

A woman stands in shadows as someone else threatens her with a knife.
NT Police data also shows that domestic violence related assaults went up 19.59 per cent during 2020, compared to 2019.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Ms Fearn said shelter staff were also concerned by the worsening severity of injuries.

“We’ve been getting a higher number of referrals from Royal Darwin Hospital where the injuries have been really significant and also from remote communities where the degree of injury has been very high,” she said.

Ms Fearn said police action to ensure compliance with DVO’s was necessary and that victims needed the orders put in place quickly and efficiently.

“The police need to follow up all breaches swiftly, otherwise there is no point,” she said.

“The rate of homicides really needs to be reduced so any initiatives or education is of benefit.”

Victoria Police generic image.
Senior Sergeant Warren Scott said police nationwide had seen a rise in domestic violence reports during 2020, following COVID lockdowns.(ABC News: Margaret Burin)

Senior Sergeant Scott said the police were out in force over the holiday period.

“This time of year is renowned for people having a drink, and having quite a few drinks, but the evidence shows that excessive alcohol consumption is a driver and contributing factor for domestic violence,” he said.

“You can call police on 131 444, call triple-0 in an emergency. You can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or 1800 RESPECT.”

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Domestic Violence Cases Surged Over The Pandemic

Domestic Violence

The most recent research from women’s advocacy peak body WESNET shows that since 2015, there has been an increase in women reporting violence by messaging services and even reports of victims’ myGov accounts being misused.

This comes along with the domestic offenders increasingly using GPS trackers and surveillance cameras to monitor their victims, with support workers saying technology-based abuse has escalated over the course of the pandemic.

This report is co-authored by researchers from WESNET, Curtin University and the University of New England. They have surveyed 442 support workers from around the country who specializes in helping victims of family and sexual violence.

As reported, women were victims in 92 per cent of the case they have encountered thus far.

In addition, respondents were asked how often they saw certain types of offending. It reveals that in 2020, nearly one in three frontline workers said they saw victims tracked with GPS apps or devices “all the time”. This is alarming, provided that five years ago, only 8 per cent of workers saw that type of abuse so often.

Surveillance camera misuse was seen “all the time” or “often” by 42 per cent of support workers in 2020, up from 16 per cent in 2015. According to WESNET Chief Executive, Karen Bentley “those devices are much cheaper and easier to get than five years ago and they’re providing much higher quality images.”

More so, one of the respondents told researchers that police had discovered surveillance cameras hidden in a roof, which were discovered after a couple separated. Another one revealed that during the pandemic there was an increase in “perpetrators installing cameras to observe and watch a woman while at home and using listening devices”.

This sophisticated technology has paved a way for perpetrators and made it difficult for the victims to escape abuse. Despite the physical space between themselves and their attackers, the victims could find one’s self in an inevitable situation.

“Once perpetrators lose physical control, they start looking for other options, and technology makes it possible,” Ms Bentley said.

Adding to the statistics, nearly 97 per cent of support workers said they saw victims abused over email, text or instant messaging services, while a similar number were harassed in phone calls. Meanwhile, support workers also noted a surge in the number of victims being forced into sharing their account and device passwords with abusers.

Over the course of the pandemic, Ms Bentley cited some very alarming cases. For example, last week, a Victorian woman told ABC Radio Melbourne she had fled to work on a regional farm due to fears her phones and computers were being tracked by a stalker she believed to be her ex-partner.

In an extreme case reported last year, a Hobart man pleaded guilty to stalking his ex-girlfriend after using an app to track and control her car.

Chief Executive of Domestic Violence Victoria and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Tanie Farha, emphasized that some victims had suffered more intense and prolonged abuse during 2020. Even others are reporting first-time family violence.

Given the figures, it is imperative that with the surge of violence taking place help should be provided with utter necessity.

FRESH-FACED OFFENDERS: Crimes of 8 young people exposed

THE courthouses on the Northern Rivers see many people walking through its doors, young and old.

From young drug dealers to killers, here are 15 young offenders on the Northern Rivers.

Mitchell Geofrey Grimston

Mitchell Grimston (middle) was surrounded by family members when he was released on bail after facing charges of manslaughter at Lismore Local Court.

  • A CASINO man responsible for a fatal car crash on New Year’s Day in 2019 has been sentenced to five years in jail.

Mitchell Geofrey Grimston, 22, was driving a vehicle involved in a fatal crash on January 1, 2019 in Casino that killed his front-seat passenger Jayden Hogan.

Mr Hogan, 24, died at the scene after he was trapped in the burning vehicle, while his girlfriend sustained serious injuries as a result of being back seat passenger of the vehicle.

The trio were travelling east on Sextonville Rd near Casino at about 2.45am, left the road and struck an electrical supply box near Lakeside Drive.

They were 250m away from the Grimston’s home, where they had planned to drink more alcohol.

The car rolled and Mr Hogan became trapped as the vehicle caught fire.

The court heard Grimston was travelling at 109km/hr in a 60km/hr zone and blew a blood-alcohol level of .163.

Grimston had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death, cause bodily harm by misconduct while in charge of motor vehicle and not giving particulars to police.

Grimston was sentenced in May to five years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years.


Jakob Brandt-Parapatic

  • A 22-YEAR-old launched into an unprovoked and brazen attack on his mother’s former partner at a Tweed pub, a court heard.

Jakob Brandt-Parapatic walked up behind his mother’s former partner, who he had not spoken to for five years and whispered: “You’ve got 10 seconds to leave or you will be bashed”.

A crowd of 70 at the Dolphin Hotel on August 26 were gathered to watch the Jeff Horn boxing match.

The Bilambil Heights man then hit the victim with a closed fist to the right side of his head causing him to fall to the ground.

Brandt-Parapatic then repeatedly punched and kicked the victim while he was on the ground, screaming “he’s a kiddie fiddler”.

The victim’s friend tried to intervene and was held back by another man who told him, it was a “family matter” and to “stay out of it”.

The victim was left with lacerations to his right eye.

Brandt-Parapatic appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court on October 14 and pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing MDMA, not showing his P-plates and drink driving from a separate incident.

Brandt-Parapatic received a two-year Community Correction Order with 100 hours of community service with conviction for the assault charge.

He was convicted and fined a total of $950, two-year Community Correction Order and lost his licence for the minimum disqualification for the remaining charges.


Jacob Tonkin and Max Hoysted

Tweed Heads South man Jacob Tonkin, 22, has been sentenced over a serious drug supply offence.

Tweed Heads South man Jacob Tonkin, 22, has been sentenced over a serious drug supply offence.

  • Talented golfer Jacob Tonkin, 22, pleaded guilty to taking part in supply of a commercial quantity of the psychostimulant drug MDA.

The Tweed Heads South man was charged alongside Max Hoysted, 21, over the supply of 500g of the drug.

The court heard Hoysted arranged to supply the MDA – fatefully, to an undercover police officer – for $18,000 in Chinderah in 2017.

But Hoysted had car troubles and invited Tonkin to join him as a driver.

During the exchange, police approached their vehicle and seized the drugs and the cash.

Tonkin was also found with one gram of cocaine.

Tonkin was convicted and sentenced to a total term of four years and six months, with a non-parole period of two years and three months.

He will be eligible for parole from August 23, 2021.

Hoysted was sentenced over four serious drug supply charges before the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney in June.


Elijah John Devlin

  • A TEENAGER was so drunk while brandishing a metal pole in a tirade he could barely stand up, a court heard.

Elijah John Devlin appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court on July 22 and pleaded guilty to intimidation, armed with the intent to commit indictable offence and resist police.

Devlin and a friend appeared at the house of a man he had argued with the night before armed with a metal pole on the morning of May 4, 2019.

Devlin yelled for the man he had disagreed with to come out and face him, but he was not home.

The other man’s father, who was at home, easily disarmed the 19-year-old, causing him to fall over.

Solicitor Cameron Bell said his client was so intoxicated he could barely stand up.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy convicted and gave Devlin a head sentence of 100 community service hours and a two-year community corrections order.


Brandon Kelly Ames

Brandon Ames, 25, has convicted after stealing a car carrying a baby in Lismore.

Brandon Ames, 25, has convicted after stealing a car carrying a baby in Lismore.

  • A BALLINA man who stole a car carrying a sleeping baby has been sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Brandon Kelly Ames was sentenced in February to stealing a motor vehicle, unlawfully taking and driving a motor vehicle with a person in it, using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention, driving a motor vehicle while disqualified and shoplifting with the value less than $2000.

He had previously been disqualified from driving until May 2040.

Court documents revealed Ames had stolen a parked idle car outside a Lismore store after he stole a bottle of drink from the same store last December.

The 25-year-old drove off with the vehicle, unaware there was a 12-month-old child sleeping in a baby seat in the back seat.

The child was not harmed during the ordeal.

Ames was sentenced in February to two years imprisonment, to commence on June 20, with a non-parole period of 18 months.

He tried to appeal the conviction, but the decision was upheld in the Lismore District Court in May.


Brodin James Sorrensen-Moate

  • A BANORA Point man had only been pulled over for unlicensed driving an hour before leading police on a car chase in the Tweed.

Brodin James Sorrensen-Moate appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court in July to plead guilty to four charges over the police pursuit, driving while suspended, possessing a prohibited drug and drug driving.

Police tried to pull the 20-year-old over after he was seen speeding southbound at 135km/h in a 110km/h zone at Chinderah on the Pacific Hwy on May 2 about 9.30pm.

The small sedan sped up to about 150km/h when the driver saw the police car, turning off the car headlights when police turned on their lights and sirens.

Police later found the car bogged on the left shoulder of the road after the Tweed Valley Way exit ramp.

Unknown to police at the time, Sorrensen-Moate had been stopped an hour beforehand and issued several infringements for being an unaccompanied learner driver.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy convicted Sorrensen-Moate and handed down a head sentence of a two-year community corrections order, 100 hours of community service, 12-month licence disqualification and $600 in fines.


Jacob Alan Morgan

Jacob Morgan, 22, was found with what a Magistrate described as a

Jacob Morgan, 22, was found with what a Magistrate described as a “smorgasbord” of drugs in the Tweed.

  • A SYDNEY bricklayer on holidays on the Northern Rivers was caught with a “smorgasbord” of drugs hidden in his truck.

Jacob Alan Morgan appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court in October to plead guilty to nine charges including possessing prohibited drugs and hindering police.

The Turramurra man was found by police sleeping in a camp bed next to his truck on Chinderah Bay Dr, Chinderah about 10.25pm on August 23.

While speaking to the 22-year-old they noticed a container of green leafy matter in the bed of his truck, prompting a search.

Morgan told police he had 0.4g of cocaine in his wallet and 75g of cannabis leaf, 23g of psilocbum mushrooms, a tab of acid and 2.4g of MDMA in a box attached to the front of his trailer.

He also admitted to 24mls of THC juice, also known as cannabis oil, being mixed in a drink bottle.

Twenty-six Valium tablets for which Morgan did not have a prescription were also located.

When police asked for his phone, he threw it in the river.

Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy called the drug bust as a “smorgasbord of illicit substances” and convicted and sentenced Morgan to an 18-month community corrections order and a total of $2850 in fines.


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Child’s suicide prompts WA Police admission accused sex offender’s bail should have been opposed

The family of an 11-year-old girl who took her own life after a police decision to grant her alleged abuser bail is demanding answers.

The man is facing six charges of indecent dealing and five counts of sexual penetration of a child under 13 between 2014 and 2020.

After being charged, the alleged offender was granted police bail.

He faced court six days later, where bail was again not opposed.

Regional Assistant Police Commissioner Jo McCabe said an early assessment of the case indicated police bail should not have been granted.

“In general, bail is considered on a case by case basis and aligned with the bail act, however an early assessment of this case, and the seriousness of the offences, tells me that police bail should have been opposed and not considered,” she said.

“This will ultimately be a matter for the coroner, but I’m here today to say that WA Police will take ownership of any issues where we can improve to prevent something like this occurring again.”

Assistant Commissioner McCabe also said police were alerted on Tuesday to a suggestion the offender had breached his bail conditions.

“At this point in time we’re working with the family,” she said.

“As we speak now, the family are with us and we’re discussing those matters to identify whether there was in fact a breach.”

When asked what support the girl and her family had received, Assistant Commissioner McCabe said, as with all sensitive matters involving children, referrals had been provided to “a number of areas” to support the victim and family with “wraparound” services.

The girl self-harmed earlier this week, and her life support was turned off on Tuesday.

Communities Minister Simone McGurk said it was now a priority to find out what supports were in place for the girl and what went wrong.

“It will be my priority within the department to understand what they knew when, and what supports were in place,” she said.

Community Services Minister Simone McGurk says she will look into what went wrong.(ABC News: Rebecca Carmody)

“If the supports were not adequate, what more we can do?”

Health Minister Roger Cook said the Government was likely to review the handling of the case.

“My understanding is there was an element of counselling and some supports that were available, so we need to look at if that was appropriate,” he said.

A clear ‘systemic failure’: Opposition

Opposition health spokesman Zak Kirkup said the case showed systemic failures in WA.

“When we see the scale of Aboriginal youth suicide in Western Australia, it’s very clear there is a systemic failure in our state,” he said.

“I think something needs to be done very significantly as a response from the Government in relation to this.”

Opposition MP Zak Kirkup speaks on the steps of WA Parliament. He wears a blue suit and glasses.
Zak Kirkup has highlighted the high rate of Indigenous youth suicide in WA.(ABC News: James Carmody)

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Queensland Opposition says youth crime out of control and vows to get tough on offenders

The State Opposition is proposing mandatory sentencing and the scrapping of youth bail houses under its new plan to tackle youth justice in Queensland.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington and LNP police spokesman Dan Purdie made the announcement in Townsville, a city the party said was in the grip of a youth crime wave.

But the Opposition cited adult crime statistics as justification for a raft of punitive measures targeting young offenders.

Queensland police provided raw figures for statewide juvenile offending for the past three years.

The data was not broken down by region and showed large spikes in unlawful entry offences, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, and offences against property.

However there had been falls in the rates of sexual offences, trespassing and vagrancy.

The LNP’s plan is dubbed “Deb’s Comprehensive Plan to Crack Down on Youth Crime”.

Under the plan, the LNP would:

  • Admit offences as a child into sentencing consideration for adult offenders
  • Impose a mandatory period of detention for children with a third conviction
  • Establish a “community payback farm program” — five farms at remote locations to teach offenders “to take ownership of their actions”
  • Scrap youth bail houses
  • Establish a $7 million justice reinvestment trial for two years in Cairns and Townsville to provide grants to culturally-safe community groups

Mr Purdie argued the city’s senior citizens were too frightened to leave their homes.

“We had a crime forum and heard from elderly people who were too scared to leave their home and walk down to the shops because they’re concerned about the youth crime epidemic,” Mr Purdie said.

LNP police spokesman Dan Purdie says police have had “a gutful” of youth offenders.(ABC News)

“The people of Townsville, and the people of Queensland, don’t need stats.

“Anyone in the main streets of Townsville, the Gold Coast, or Cairns will tell you that crime is out of control because they’re seeing it every day.”

‘Political scaremongering’

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope condemned the policy.

“This is just a crass piece of political scaremongering,” Mr Cope said.

“There is no youth crime wave. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that youth crime in this state has been falling pretty much consistently for the last 10 years.”

Mr Cope also criticised the LNP’s plan to impose youth mandatory sentencing, saying it did away with 100 years of principles that underpinned youth justice.

“Detention centres are the university of crime — that’s where people go to learn how to do it better,” he said.

“The appropriate sentence should be determined by a judge having regard to all the facts in a particular case.

“People’s mistakes should not be carried into adulthood, which is why offences committed in youth are not carried into adulthood except in exceptional circumstances.”

Mr Cope said the LNP’s commitment to fund a restorative justice program would have the support of the Civil Liberties Council.

Campbell Newman speaks to reporters.
Campbell Newman’s government introduced boot camps for youth offenders in 2014.(AAP: John Pryke)

‘A better life out there’

The LNP government led by Campbell Newman introduced boot camps for youth offenders, a program that was widely criticised both for its lack of effectiveness and the integrity of its tender process.

Ms Frecklington said the LNP’s new plan to send children to “remote farms” bore no resemblance to boot camps.

When asked who would staff the farms and what expertise they might have in working with young offenders, Ms Frecklington said they would be staffed by “people with life experience”.

“It’s all about letting kids know there’s a better life out there,” she said.

“Some of these kids have had a really sad start in life, and that’s why we need to be investing in these kids early to teach them there is a better life out there.”

But Police Minister Mark Ryan said the remote farm plan was a reincarnation of boot camps.

Mark Ryan at the side of a road at a press conference in Brisbane's north
Mark Ryan says there is no quick fix for youth crime.(ABC News: Anna Hartley)

“This is a recycled policy from the Newman government,” he said.

“It was a failed policy then and it will be a failed policy again now.”

Mr Ryan said the Government’s youth justice strategy was working and crime had fallen over the past decade.

“With this strategy, there is no silver bullet, there is no quick fix. The reason why young people get involved in crime is very complex,” Mr Ryan said.

“So when Deb Frecklington comes out and says that she’s got a quick fix, a silver bullet, we know that that is just providing false hope to people.”

Mr Ryan said the Government’s policy targeted the “hard-core” people who committed the majority of youth offences.

“We know that if we can stop those hard-core youth offenders from committing crime, we can make a big dint in overall criminal offending,” he said.

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Child sexual abuse offenders to face mandatory federal laws

The government introduced the bill last September to impose mandatory minimum penalties for certain Commonwealth child sex offences and amend the Crimes Act to insert a presumption against bail for certain Commonwealth child sex offenders, among other changes.

The Labor Party platform opposes mandatory sentencing out of concern that judges have flexibility to impose sentences as they see fit, but this has left Labor exposed to Mr Dutton’s claims that the party was soft on perpetrators of crimes against children.

In a pragmatic decision, the Labor caucus voted unanimously on Tuesday morning to support the government bill even if it could not be amended to remove the mandatory sentencing provisions.

Labor legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus told MPs they should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good and should not block the bill if it included mandatory sentences.

While a series of MPs spoke on the matter and emphasised the party platform and the independence of the judiciary, the caucus voted for the motion to back the bill.


Mr Dutton accused Labor of trying to stop the changes in the Senate on Monday night when Labor and others sought to amend the bill to remove the mandatory sentencing.

“We wanted to introduce minimum mandatory sentencing for paedophiles, and you opposed it. You opposed it,” Mr Dutton told Question Time.

Mr Dutton cited The Daily Telegraph to back his argument, but Labor denied his claims and accused him in turn of misleading Parliament.

“Claiming that members voted in a different way to how they did is dishonest,” said Labor workplace spokesman Tony Burke, the manager of Opposition business in the House of Representatives.

“The minister should withdraw and should not be allowed to continue with an answer that he knows is not true.”

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill was amended in the Senate on Monday night but the government said it would reject those changes.

The government will insist the bill proceeds in its original form, including the mandatory sentencing provisions, and this will force Labor to decide whether to accept the bill on the government’s terms in the lower house.

Given the decision of the Labor caucus on Tuesday morning, the government can expect to pass the bill in its original form when it chooses to put it to the House.

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