Daniel’s Law advocates hope other children will be spared a similar tragic fate.
Daniel Morcombe was waiting for a bus to go and buy Christmas presents for his family around lunchtime on December 7, 2003.
That was the last time the 13-year-old from the Sunshine Coast was seen alive.
Convicted child sex offender Brett Peter Cowan offered him a lift then molested, murdered and buried the little boy with the big eyes and bright smile.
Daniel’s parents, Bruce and Denise Morcombe, have worked tirelessly since then to ensure children are protected from similar depraved predators.
Now, legislation for an online sex offenders register – a public website pinpointing the whereabouts of convicted serious sex offenders – has been introduced into the Northern Territory Parliament this week.
Under The Sex Offender and Child Homicide Offender Public Website Bill 2015, known as Daniel’s Law, the website will list “the worst of the worst” child sex offenders, including those convicted of killing a child.
Other states rejected the controversial bill at a Council of Australian Governments meeting last year due to the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of such programs, The Guardian reports.
“We don’t have a national murderers register, we don’t have a national thieves register, we don’t have a national white-collar criminals register,” then Prime Minister Tony Abbott said last year.
But NT Attorney General and Minister for Justice John Elferink said he would go ahead with the bill this week as he felt compelled to after meeting with the Morcombes and because the government was “determined to protect the community”.
“The rub is this – there was criticism of this legislation when it was introduced in America under the guise of Megan’s Law,” Mr Elferink said.
“But one state did it, then another state did it. Now all 50 states have an equivalent.”
The Guardian reports that multiple studies have highlighted a lack of proof that open sex registers make children any safer.
But Mr Elferink said he knew “what the studies say, but I also know what the parents think and feel”.
“I’m focused on the victims and I’ll stay focused on the victims.”
In a message on the Daniel Morcombe Foundation’s Facebook page, Bruce and Denise Morcombe urged MPs to vote in favour of Daniel’s Law.
“We thank Attorney General John Elferink and we call on residents of the Northern Territory to email, ring, post the Labor and Independent Members identifying their desire that this Bill be passed in Parliament,” they wrote.
Anything that could prevent a tragedy like the one that the Morcombes have endured is a win in our books.