The Turnbull government is confident it will get support from the Senate crossbench to introduce compulsory jail terms for serious child sex offenders.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan has scolded Labor in parliament for its opposition to the proposal, even though it backs every other tough new measure.
The bill, which passed the lower house on Thursday, imposes mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders and offences that attract the highest penalties.
Labor argues mandatory sentences let “guilty people off the hook” because juries are less likely to convict them knowing there’s no discretion about the sentence and they act as a disincentive for criminals to plead guilty.
Opposition justice spokeswoman Clare O’Neil also fears unintended consequences – such as 18-year-olds in a consensual relationship with a 15-year-old being automatically jailed for engaging in sexual activity overseas.
But Mr Keenan said that claim – also made by the Law Council – was “absurd”.
It was already a crime