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Passport crackdown on pedophiles

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Jennifer Rajca

The federal government will develop ways to stop convicted pedophiles travelling overseas to sexually assault vulnerable children.

"What we're talking about is some of the worst grubs you can imagine, they're a disgrace to Australia," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Neil Mitchell on 3AW radio on Friday.

In supporting an idea raised by Senator Derryn Hinch, the government will work with the states and territories to make it easier to cancel the passports of convicted sex offenders.

At present the foreign minister can cancel passports - and has pulled about 12 - but only at the request of police under direction from state governments.

A very happy Senator Hinch is pleased the government is joining his push to stop middle-aged men from taking what he describes as "child-rape holidays".

His hope is the sex offenders register can be linked to the passports system so a red flag goes up when they apply for one or wish to use it.

That information would then be directly passed to the foreign minister, with an appeal still available to the Adminstrative Appeals Tribunal.

Senator Hinch had questioned how the government could cancel the passports of suspected terrorists fighting abroad, under a claim of national interest, while there were still gaps when it comes to sex offenders.

"Middle-aged men going to Thailand to rape children on a holiday is not in the national interest," he said.

Senator Hinch also asked how those charged with crimes and suspected of wanting to flee the country can have their passports taken away, only to have them returned upon leaving jail.

"You attack a child you lose the normal civil rights that we all have and want and cherish ... and so you bloody well should."

The crossbencher denied government action was being exchange for any of his votes in the Senate.

"I don't horse trade," he told reporters in Canberra.

"I have not mentioned this in the same breath as this alphabet soup we're facing at the moment of ABCC, 18C and PPL."

The senator likened getting the state attorneys-general together to herding cats.

"They've all got to co-operate more."

Senator Hinch refused to claim credit for the idea, saying actress Rachel Griffiths raised it with him years ago.

After losing contact with her he was passed a note a couple of weeks after being elected to the upper house at an event in Melbourne.

The note read: 'How come if you are declared bankrupt in Australia your passport is then pulled and you are banned from holding a passport for seven years? How come that doesn't apply to convicted sex offenders?"

In the past year, about 800 registered sex offenders have travelled overseas with about 300 of those to South-East Asian countries.

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