My first reaction to the news that Victorian senator Derryn Hinch used his maiden speech to “name and shame” sex offenders was to stand up and cheer. I’ve been a longtime admirer of his work to make Australia a safer place, in particular for children who deserve better than to fall into the hands of some vile individual.
The thought of something happening to my children keeps me up at night. Last night I was carrying my seven year old daughter to bed and I kissed her forehead as she giggled, before tucking her in. Having been moved by the reward offered for information on poor little William Tyrell I found myself thinking of something like that happening to her.
What would she do?
What would she say?
Would she cry?
Would she call out for me?
Sometimes it can feel as though parents have the weight of the world on their shoulders trying to ensure their children are safe and happy. Knowing people like Derryn Hinch are out there trying to make things better makes me feel as though it doesn’t all rest on my shoulders.
So what’s so wrong with what Hinch tried to do during his maiden speech?
He promised to use his maiden speech to fire off some bullets in the direction of those he feels most deserve it most, choosing to name mostly sex offenders currently serving jail time. He’s obviously keen not to face jail or prison again, having served time in 1987, 2011 and 2014 for naming paedophiles and their victims.
During his maiden speech this week in parliament he mentioned Brett Peter Cowan – who murdered Daniel Morcombe – and Adrian Bayley – who killed Jill Meagher – both of whom are currently serving lengthy prison terms. His reason for mentioning these two grubs in particular is because both Cowan and Bayley shouldn’t have been free to commit these crimes in the first place owing to their previous convictions.
Hinch feels a public sex offender registry will allow us to better protect ourselves and our loved ones from such people. In fact there is already a sex offender registry in Australia, accessible only by the highest levels of law enforcement. Someone just has to hit the button that gives us access not only to dots on a map, but names and addresses.
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Except a public sex offender registry probably wouldn’t have helped Daniel and Jill. What was reviewed after these two terrible crimes was the pathetic punishments handed down to Cowan for previous crimes and lightweight parole laws that led to the release of Bayley.
Hinch also named a man who received only three years and three months in prison for offending against a two-year-old girl. A pathetic sentence, on that we can all agree, but not surprising considering the current state of legislation that allows criminals like this to get off lightly.