Anger over sex abuse law delay

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser
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Albany MLA Peter Watson has accused the State Government of playing political football with the lives of child sex abuse victims after the Liberals announced a plan to remove limitation periods for victims to file civil actions only months after the same proposal was blocked in Parliament.

The proposed new laws will remove time limitations on victims of child sexual abuse filing a civil action against perpetrators, remove any cap on maximum damages that can be awarded and allow victims who have previously settled out of court to have their case heard.

Mr Watson had worked closely with child sex abuse victims in the Great Southern and with Liberal Member for Eyre Graham Jacobs to put forward a private members Bill in November last year.

It was ultimately rejected by Mr Jacobs’ Liberal party colleagues.

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Mr Watson said it was great the new laws would now go through regardless of the outcome of the upcoming State Election, but the Government’s decision not to pass them last year has brought further suffering to victims.

“This Bill is exactly the same as the one Labor supported with Mr Jacobs last year,” he said.

“It will now be about another 12 months from whenever these laws are brought into Parliament before they will benefit victims.”

State Premier Colin Barnett said the new laws would remove the legal barrier and allow a case to go to court regardless of the time that had passed.

“Many victims, probably the majority, may not come forward for many years or decades later, and they carry this burden throughout their lives,” he said.

Deputy Premier Liza Harvey said she accepted the decision to draft new laws could have been made earlier and the level of financial exposure to government remained unknown.

“It was incredibly humbling and sad to hear some of the stories and situations of these victims,” she said.

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