Statement on the Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Bill 2020

The Liberal Nationals again call on Daniel Andrews and Attorney-General, Jill Hennessy to either defer debate on the Bill until it properly consults with victims, their families and advocates, or agree to amendments that preserve the legal status quo regarding deceased victims.

The Bill will insert for the first time an express legal requirement for the families of deceased sexual assault victims to obtain a court’s permission to speak about their deceased loved one. If they don’t, they could face criminal prosecution.

Despite the trauma this proposal is causing and the opposition from the community and victims of crime, the Andrews Labor Government intends to ram the Bill through the Parliament next week and has listed it as its top priority, when Parliament sits again next Tuesday.

Since the Bill passed the Legislative Assembly, Tasmanian of the Year, Ms Grace Tame has spoken publicly, calling the Bill “disgusting”, “unbelievable” and “yet another example of how our society enables predators by silencing the victims, including in this case grieving relatives.” 

Ms Tame joins Ms Edith McKeon (the mother of Jill Meagher), Mr John Herron, Ms Chrissie Foster and other families who have already suffered too much, in opposing this aspect of the Bill.

Further, in a significant intervention, the Australian Right to Know Coalition, bringing together a disparate group of media owners including SBS, ABC, Nine, NewsCorp, the Guardian, as well as the and the union representing journalists, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, has spoken out against this contentious aspect of the Bill. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC has confirmed via a media release dated 28 October that it’s her current policy that the families of deceased sexual assault victims won’t be prosecuted if they do speak out about their deceased loved ones. If this policy is retained, it gives the Government the time it needs to go back to the drawing board, consult and get this important issue right.

Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue:

“Daniel Andrews and Jill Hennessy are kicking sand in the face of the families of deceased sexual assault victims by treating them with contempt and arrogance.

“With more and more victims of crime, their families, advocates, journalists and unions calling out this clear mistake from Daniel Andrews and Jill Hennessy, this Bill cannot proceed without change and these very real concerns of those who have already suffered so much, being addressed.”

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