CONVICTED Australian paedophiles will have their passports cancelled in a federal government crackdown to prevent offenders travelling overseas and targeting vulnerable children, according to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Turnbull this morning told Neil Mitchell on 3AW his government will develop ways to execute the plan.
“What we’re talking about is some of the worst grubs you can imagine, they’re a disgrace to Australia,” Mr Turnbull said on Friday.
“We believe that by further co-operation with the states and territories, once we identify people who have been convicted of serious offences of this kind, then of course the Foreign Minister can revoke their passports.
“We don’t want Australians travelling to South East Asia for these sexual criminal activities.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Friday announced the federal government would develop the new measures along with independent Senator Derryn Hinch, who was elected off the back of a long-running campaign to name and shame convicted child sex offenders.
The government will work with the states and territories to make it easier to cancel the passports of convicted sex offenders.
The foreign minister already has the authority to cancel passports — and has pulled about 12 — but only at the request of police under direction from state governments.
Senator Hinch is pleased the government is joining his push to stop mostly middle-aged men from taking what he describes as “child-rape holidays”.
His hope is the sex offenders register will be linked to the passports system so a red flag goes up when they apply for one or wish to use it.
That information would then be directly passed to the foreign minister, with an appeal still available to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Senator Hinch had questioned how the government could cancel the passports of suspected terrorists fighting abroad, under a claim of national interest, while there were still gaps when it comes to sex offenders.
“Middle-aged men going to Thailand to rape children on a holiday is not in the national interest,” he said.
Senator Hinch also asked how those charged with crimes and suspected of wanting to flee the country can have their passports taken away, only to have them returned upon leaving jail.
“You attack a child you lose the normal civil rights that we all have and want and cherish ... and so you bloody well should.”
The crossbencher denied government action was being exchanged for any of his votes in the Senate.
“I don’t horse trade,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“I have not mentioned this in the same breath as this alphabet soup we’re facing at the moment of ABCC, 18C and PPL.”
The senator likened getting the state attorneys-general together to herding cats.
“They’ve all got to co-operate more.”
Senator Hinch refused to claim credit for the idea, saying actor Rachel Griffiths raised it with him years ago.
After losing contact with her he was passed a note a couple of weeks after being elected to the upper house at an event in Melbourne.
The note read: ‘How come if you are declared bankrupt in Australia your passport is then pulled and you are banned from holding a passport for seven years? How come that doesn’t apply to convicted sex offenders?”