Parliament: Speeches on Bills

Statutes Amendment (Child Exploitation and Encrypted Material) Bill

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I speak today on behalf of the Dignity Party in support of this bill, which essentially gives police officers more powers to demand passwords and gain access to technological devices that they reasonably suspect contain material pertaining to child exploitation.

I know that some might take a civil liberty approach to this particular measure and have concerns about expanding police powers to demand access to people’s personal devices, but in this particular instance, given that the police do have to have a reasonable suspicion that the device does contain exploitative material and that these measures pertain to children, I think it is reasonable to take whatever measures we can to make sure that that material is accessed and that those who access that material, possess that material and produce that material are suitably punished.

I do want to put one question to the minister responsible for this bill. Given that police officers are going to be given access to more devices that they reasonably suspect contain child exploitation material, and given that that is likely to increase their workload and the frequency with which they are looking at child pornography and, to say the least, other very unpleasant material, what plan is there to increase supports for police officers in terms of both the workload and the mental health toll that that could take?

I understand that they are already required to take some breaks from looking at such material in undertaking this workload, but I would like to know whether there are any specific measures in place to support the mental health of these officers accessing that material, particularly where they are required to gain access to a child pornography network by essentially posing as a child pornographer. I think it is reasonable to ask what supports are in place to support the mental health of police officers accessing that material as part of their work. Other than that question, I support the bill.