Paedophiles would have their superannuation assets seized and used to pay for the ongoing care of abuse victims under a proposed legal reform endorsed by the survivor of a notorious child sex offender.
- The plan, put forward by Nick Xenophon, has been supported by a victim of Peter Liddy
- Mr Xenophon said there were hundreds of millions in superannuation that should instead go to survivors
- A lawyer said perpetrators were deliberately hiding or moving their assets to prevent victims from accessing them
The proposal, put forward by independent federal Senate candidate Nick Xenophon, is intended to stop child sex offenders hiding assets in superannuation and then accessing them once they are released from prison.
Under current federal bankruptcy laws, there is no provision allowing perpetrators’ super to be used for compensation and redress, Mr Xenophon said.
Andy Martin, who was abused between the ages of nine and 12 by notorious South Australian paedophile Peter Liddy, today expressed strong support for the proposed reform.
“Some circumstances need amending, and this is one — if a perpetrator is allowed to hide his assets or put his assets into superannuation, and not allow victims to obtain their compensation or their entitlements, that’s just not on,” he said.
Mr Xenophon estimated that there could be hundreds of millions of dollars locked away in superannuation accounts of convicted paedophiles across Australia, and said he was aware of one particular case in which “several million dollars” was unavailable to victims.
“Liddy is still incarcerated. Of course, he’s a former magistrate, we imagine that he would potentially have significant superannuation left,” he said.
“If you’ve committed this type of abhorrent offence, you shouldn’t be able to live in luxury after you get out of prison.
“That money ought to go to the victims.”
The proposal was mooted in broader form by the federal government in 2018 — but Mr Xenophon, who recently announced his intention to run for the Senate, said there had been little further progress.
The federal government has been contacted for comment.
Lawyer Andrew Carpenter said it was not simply the case that superannuation was unavailable to victims, but that paedophiles were deliberately taking steps to hide assets to ensure they were out of reach of victims.
“What we’re seeing across the board is paedophiles burying their assets in superannuation,” he said.
“There’s no exceptions under the Bankruptcy Act and people know they can go to jail, sell everything and come out and live a comfortable life based on money they’ve had set aside.”
Scheme would save taxpayers ‘billions’
Mr Carpenter said superannuation companies “across the board” had expressed support for the reform, which he described as a “no-brainer”.
“Taxpayers are funding, right now, victims of crime compensation applications, Medicare charges, Centrelink, doctors appointments — all because the survivors are needing this treatment and support to live a normal life whilst the offenders leave jail,” he said.
“This is something that has cost the taxpayers billions of dollars over the years. It’s about time that taxpayers stopped paying for the sins of paedophiles.
“If this law changes … not only will you lose your liberty, you’ll stand to lose everything you work for and that’s the real deterrent here.”
Lisa, a sister of another of Liddy’s victims, said it was “abhorrent and contrary to any sense of justice” that sex offenders should enjoy comfortable lives upon their release, when their victims continued to suffer.
“We believe that Peter Liddy went out of his way to thwart his victims’ claims, which added considerably to the boys’ distress,” she said.
“While no amount of compensation would be able to remove the horrific lifetime memories that the victims must endure … the perpetrator should not be able to profit in any way.
“They should be made to do what they can to lessen the impact of their dreadful deeds by forfeiting every material thing for the benefit of their victims’ ongoing rehabilitation and welfare.”