Written by Andrew Tiedt
Published under News
September 26, 2016
Derryn Hinch has delivered his maiden speech, and it was a sight to behold.
Surprising many, Hinch was elected to the Australian senate earlier this year. The now-senator has had a long career in the media, including working in print and radio. Most recently, he has hosted a television show Hinch Live which aired on Sky News.
He has gained public notoriety in recent years for intentionally breaching suppression orders made by the courts, and revealing the names of accused or convicted paedophiles. He has spent time in prison as well as a number of months under home detention as a result.
There are many reasons that court makes these suppression orders. Before or during a jury trial, it is often considered essential that the media not broadcast the details of even the identity of the accused. This is so that a future jury is not prejudiced by hearing evidence that may not end up being admitted into evidence during the trial.
This is what occurred during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Many of the now adults giving evidence about what occurred to them in the past have had their identity concealed to ensure that any person charged in the future would still have the opportunity to have a fair trial.
The other main reason that identities are often concealed is to protect the victim themselves. It is frequently the case that identifying the accused person would necessarily identify the victim.
A brief perusal of any court list in New South Wales will usually show people identified only by their initials. There are many reasons this might occur, but the most common explanation is because they have been accused of sexual crimes against children, and it is important that the identity of the child is protected.
Derryn Hinch’s opinion is that the identities of child abusers should be public. He is calling for the sex offenders register to not only be public, but for a website to be set up with, amongst other things, the names, addresses and photographs of convicted offenders.
His party claims that the website will not provide “any details that could identify a victim” although it is not clear how this can be accomplished.
During his maiden speech, he “named and shamed” five sexual offenders, all of whom had already been convicted and imprisoned for their offences. Whilst it is unclear whether this has caused any harm to victims, what is far more concerning is Hinch’s promise to “use parliamentary privilege to name names… if it is necessary to protect a child's wellbeing.”
If it is Hinch’s intention to so name persons in a way that identifies victims, he risks doing very serious harm.