A Canberra politician has invoked the Christchurch shootings, in which 50 people were killed, to argue against a bill reforming child sex abuse laws.
- ACT is debating whether to force priests to break confessional seal
- MLA Giulia Jones invoked Christchurch attacks to oppose bill
- Attorney-General labels comments “disgraceful”
On Tuesday afternoon Liberal MLA Giulia Jones said the bill — which would make it mandatory for Catholic priests to report child abuse disclosed in confession — was targeting people of faith.
Mrs Jones used the Christchurch attacks, in which 50 Muslim worshippers were killed during Friday prayers, to further her point.
“The good people of faith who will be drawn into this are unnecessarily being demonised,” Ms Jones said.
“It is a very bad precedent at a time when we have all been reminded how the targeting of particular religious communities can have devastating consequences.”
Mrs Jones said the ACT Government’s move to implement the recommendation of the royal commission into child sexual abuse was alienating.
“It is divisive the way this bill … this week of all weeks, should be picking apart the detail of someone’s religious practice,” she said.
The Opposition agreed to vote with the Government’s bill, which would require any Canberran to report suspected child sexual abuse — including what is disclosed within the confessional booths.
It allowed its members, including the Catholic MLA, to speak their conscience on the matter.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said Mrs Jones’ comments were out of step with the views of both her party and the community.
“Nothing can be more important than the safety of our children. To attempt to draw any parallel between this legislation and recent events is disgraceful,” Mr Ramsay said.
“Nobody is above the laws of our nation, no politician, no religious institution.”
Mrs Jones has been contacted for comment.