REVEALED: MP defends opposition to sex offender list in 2014
STEPHEN Bennett has come out swinging after the State Government revealed he voted against a bill in 2014 that closely resembled the current push by the Federal Government to introduce a national child sex offender register.
Last week Mr Bennett told the NewsMail he strongly supported the Australian Government's move to introduce a public child sex offender list, imploring the State to take the same stance.
But a Hansard transcript from August 6, 2014 has revealed Mr Bennett didn't always support the political agenda, prompting a spokesperson for the Office of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to question the MP's change of heart.
"Stephen Bennett has been reported in the NewsMail as saying he supports a public register for sex offenders. Thought (people) may be interested in asking him why he voted against such a move in 2014," a spokesperson said.
The transcript showed Mr Bennett was one of 72 politicians who voted against a bill five years ago that would have seen child sex offenders have their names and identification details published on a national list accessible to the public.
Only six voted for the legislation in 2014, proposed by Katter's Australia Party.
The primary objective of the Child Protection (Offender Reporting - Publication of Information) Amendment Bill 2013 was to enable concerned members of the community to have access to information that would allow them to identify reportable offenders in their neighbourhood or who otherwise have access to children in their care.
Yesterday Mr Bennett defended his vote against the legislation, saying the 2014 bill was "not the same issue".
Mr Bennett said he hadn't supported the earlier bill because the LNP had been waiting at the time to find out how the country's first public sex offender register - introduced in Western Australia in 2012 - had faired.
"We were waiting for the review of that model, which was due in 2015," he told the NewsMail.
Calling the 2014 legislation "flawed", Mr Bennett said there were several key factors that influenced his decision to oppose the earlier bill.
"We had just introduced the toughest child safety laws (the Child Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014) in decades and the departments needed to implement changes in a systematic way," he said.
The objective of that bill was to support more stringent monitoring of sex offenders and tougher conditions for offenders.
Mr Bennett admitted there was significant confusion at the time, with another, similar piece legislation, proposed by Palmer's United Party, also before the House of Representatives.
"It was a serious issue made very complicated and risky," he said.
Both bills were reviewed by the bipartisan committee at the time, who recommended they not be passed.