INDEPENDENT Member for Cairns Rob Pyne has attacked the Catholic Church as “a law unto itself” as he introduced a private member’s bill dealing with child abuse into Queensland Parliament.
The bill would legally require priests and other ministers of religion to report cases of abuse.
Mr Pyne said if a member of the clergy had knowledge of a crime, they should be obliged to report it.
“Child abuse is even more damaging when the offender holds a position of trust. Abuse by ministers of religion is a life-scarring betrayal,” Mr Pyne tweeted on Tuesday March 20, the day before he tabled his bill.
Mr Pyne’s bill would make it mandatory for religious ministers to report abuse, including child sexual abuse, to the Department of Child Safety.
Child abuse is even more damaging when the offender holds a position of trust. Abuse by Ministers of Religion is a life scarring betrayal. pic.twitter.com/3KMxAPqrz1
— Rob Pyne MP (@RobJPyne) March 20, 2017
Under existing Queensland law, teachers, nurses and doctors must contact the department if they have “a reasonable suspicion” that a child has suffered, is suffering or could suffer “significant harm” by physical or sexual abuse.
The law will also apply to childcare workers from July.
Mr Pyne said he believed the rules needed to be extended to churches.
In tabling his bill Mr Pyne quoted a Royal Commission witness from 2013, Christopher Geraghty, who said the Church had its own schools and universities, its own system of laws and regulations, its own police force and lawyers, a developed list of penalties, and its own courts and processes.
“(It’s) a law unto itself – an organisation founded by God and answerable only to God,” Mr Pyne quoted Christopher Geraghty as saying.
“… Such an attitude is no longer acceptable. In fact a majority of Australians find such an attitude thoroughly objectionable,” Mr Pyne said.
“It falls horribly short in protecting our children.”
Mr Pyne’s bill has been referred to a parliamentary committee for consideration.