Murder victim Carly Ryan was a victim of the type of crime the legislation aimed to prevent. Picture: Supplied Source:Supplied
SOUTH Australian senators have been criticised for voting down a law that would have made it a crime for adults to lie about their age to minors online
Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon sought to create a criminal offence for the practice in the Criminal Code Act 1995 and create a register of those who breached the law, in a legislative change he dubbed the “Carly Amendment”.
Senator Xenophon said while the amendment was supported by himself, the Greens and the DLP, the major parties voted against it on party lines.
“For me and many fellow South Australians, nothing brings home the seriousness of cyber crime more than Carly Ryan’s story,” Senator Xenophon said.
“In 2006, when Carly was just 14 years old, she started chatting online with someone she thought was a 20-year-old called Brandon Kane.
“What Carly did not and could not have realised is that behind the online conversation with Brandon was not a 20-year-old musician at all. Brandon Kane did not exist. Instead she had unknowingly developed a relationship with Garry Francis Newman, a 47-year-old man who lived with his mother.”
Senator Xenophon moved the amendment to a Bill brought by the Greens to improve the policing of cyber crime.
He said some major party senators would be regretful when they realised they had torpedoed a law that, had it been in place, could have stopped the murder of Carly Ryan.
“I said to one of the South Australian senators who voted against it, ‘do you realise what you just voted against?’ and he just shrugged his shoulders,” Senator Xenophon said.
Eminent UniSA child protection advocate Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs yesterday joined the criticism, saying predation was the only reason for adults to lie to children about their age.
“There needs to be a better deterrent,” she said.
“I can think of no other reason other than predatory ones for an adult lying to a child on the internet.”