BILL: Limitation of Actions (Child Sexual Abuse) Amendment Bill


I particularly express my gratitude and commendation to the member for Bragg (the Attorney-General and Deputy Premier), who has been arguing for this legislation for some two years and has been a supporter of the causes and needs of victims of child sexual abuse for many years. This is important legislation. This is legislation that was sought, as others have identified, through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, particularly recommendations 85 to 88 of its Redress and Civil Litigation Report, which recommended that all states and territories take immediate steps to remove the limitation period for cases arising from institutional child sexual abuse.

That is the legislation which the Liberal Party brought to this house two years ago and which I note the Labor Party argued against as recently as February this year. It is disappointing that it has taken us two years to get to the point where this legislation is now capable of passing the House of Assembly with bipartisan support. I congratulate the Labor Party on changing their point of view on this legislation.

I also acknowledge the work of the Hon. John Darley, who previously identified the need for similar legislation through his work in the Legislative Council. I hope, with the passage of this legislation today, that it will have speedy passage through the Legislative Council so that those victims who have been spoken about in such emotional terms in this chamber today will have this further opportunity for some potential legal redress.

I offer some constructive advice to the opposition. I thank the shadow minister, who has identified that the amendments she foreshadowed in her speech will be made available to the government through the Attorney-General's office and, I believe, other members as soon as possible. It is important that this legislation passes as swiftly as it can, for the reasons outlined. The amendments not being available for the House of Assembly to consider today need not, I hope, delay the bill in the Legislative Council. The Labor Party, the opposition, is welcome to make them public or provide them directly to officers within the government and the crossbenches upstairs. Providing them early means that we will be able to consider them and address them.

However, there has been some discussion about the substance of the amendments. The member for Badcoe summed up the substance—obviously anyone can read her speech, if they wish to—by saying:

I do not think that we should be saying that people who experience a particular type of abuse should have more rights and more freedoms to take an action later in their life than victims who experience a different type of abuse…It is a crime, whether that abuse is sexual, physical, mental, emotional or any other kind of abuse.

There may well be crimes associated with some of those other types of abuse. I also note cultural neglect or cultural abuse was identified during the shadow minister's discussion. The comment I would make at this stage is that this bill is the result of the federal Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and has been expanded to include other victims of child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is treated differently in the law in a number of different ways. One of the key components is that child sexual abuse is always serious and is always worthy of a serious tag. It is incapable of being otherwise.

We look forward to seeing the amendments and contemplating how the Labor Party propose that those other forms of abuse be dealt with differently and how that could be incorporated here. I would suggest that it is also worth considering whether it is a larger of body of work, if they do wish to put those other forms of abuse on the same par as child sexual abuse across legislation, and whether there are other bills they wish to look at. They may wish to contemplate private member's legislation, which could deal with that as a discrete body of inquiry. I imagine that would assist the parliament in ensuring that this bill is not delayed by any potential consequences that have not yet been seen as a result of their proposed amendments.

They have not yet been seen, of course, because, after two years of discussing this particular bill in its various forms, which has arrived in the stage that it now is, many of the issues related to child sexual abuse in particular have been flushed out and discussed at length. The amendments proposed by the Labor Party, to be dealt with in the upper house, are as yet unclear and of course they will need some investigation. I hope that they do not form a position where they in any way delay the bill, but that will be a matter for the other chamber, presupposing that this house is supportive of the bill. I thank all members for identifying their support for the bill. It is tremendous that we are able to pass this legislation this morning. I commend the bill to the house.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (12:55): I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Bill read a third time and passed.