Abuse Redress Scheme Clears Parliament
June 18, 2018
Legislation establishing the national redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors has passed parliament.
The $3.8 billion national redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors has passed federal parliament, despite concerns it doesn't go far enough.
The scheme is set to be operational on July 1 after Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers agreed not to delay the passage of legislation through the Senate.
The bill passed the upper house on Tuesday afternoon, after senators debated the scheme late into Monday night.
Victorian independent Senator Derryn Hinch angrily accused the government of "double-crossing" the parliamentary committee into the scheme he chaired.
He expressed surprise the maximum payout was in line with the Catholic Church's push for $150,000 rather than the $200,000 recommended by the child abuse royal commission.
"I've been unable to find out not only who suggested the 150K, but also who lobbied for it and who signed off on it," Senator Hinch told parliament.
He demanded to know how the figure was arrived at.
"How did this happen? I cannot go back to these victims and say how I got this figure," Senator Hinch said.
Government minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said the maximum payment was an agreement between the commonwealth, state and territory governments and non-government institutions.
She said while the cap was lower than what the commission recommended, the $76,000 average payment is $11,000 higher.
Labor is also worried about how the figure was determined, and has similar concerns to the Greens over the indexation of past pay-outs and counselling services.
But the opposition said they were were determined not to let the good be the enemy of the perfect.
"It is a step in the right direction towards acknowledging this pain and suffering that's part of our lived history," Labor's Deborah O'Neill said.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells said it would be a significant and meaningful scheme.
"It is time to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and provide survivors the recognition they deserve," she told parliament.
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm opposes the scheme, arguing against a taxpayer-funded "cash-pot" to pay victims off.
He believes victims would prefer abusers and institutions admit their crimes face-to-face.
"Admit they are miserable failures of human beings and commit their lives to ensuring nobody has to suffer like that again," Senator Leyonhjelm said.