Child sex offences Issues Paper Welcomed Thu 10 May 2012 Brian Wightman Attorney-General The Attorney General, Brian Wightman, today welcomed the release of an issues paper on sexual offences against young people. Mr Wightman thanked the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute for the paper that was commissioned by the State Government after the case of the prostitution of a 12-year-old girl. "The paper is a comprehensive response to a complex matter," Mr Wightman said. "It highlights the current laws and examines options for reform including: When mistake as to age should be available as a defence to sex offences; Whether the onus should be on the accused to prove mistake as to age as a defence to child sex offences or whether the onus should be on the prosecution to disprove mistake as to age. "These are serious matters that go to the very essence of our criminal law and the need to balance the protection of society against the rights of an accused to a fair trial. "My personal view is that in light of this case, and the arguments raised in the issues paper, we should move to introduce a no defence age in Tasmania, so that defendants would not be able to use the excuse that they did not realise the person was underage, when they are below a specified age, as a defence. "As a government we are committed to being responsible about the way we approach legislative reform, and we are also committed to ensuring any amendments to the existing law are sound and have community support. "This is a matter that we know is very close to the heart of many Tasmanians and I urge Tasmanians to respond to the questions raised in the paper." Mr Wightman said the paper is available at the Institute's web page at www.law.utas.edu.au/reform and responses should be made in writing by 29 June 2012.