Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2016

Written on the 25 May 2016

 

24 May 2016

COUNCIL 

Second reading 

 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

I am pleased to rise to make a brief contribution to the debate on the Crimes Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.

In doing so I note that the bill amends a number of acts in terms of inserting consideration of custodial officers into existing sentencing provisions relating to emergency workers in the Sentencing Act 1991, amends the Crimes Act 1958 and the Summary Offences Act 1966 to extend to custodial officers existing offence provisions for assaults on emergency workers, amends the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 to allow the admission of recorded evidence in proceedings for sexual offences heard in the Children's Court and introduces a general regulation-making power into the Crimes Act 1958.

There are a number of amendments to existing acts, but what the bill does is build on the reforms of the former coalition government. In particular I would like to acknowledge the work undertaken in this regard in relation to these areas by the former Attorney-General Robert Clark, a member in the Legislative Assembly, who did a considerable amount of work in relation to putting reforms in to protect emergency workers in particular. This bill really is an extension of that work that was undertaken at that time.

It is pleasing that the previous bill that I have mentioned, which the previous coalition government was responsible for, is in place. A few days ago I was out in my electorate and somebody I was talking to told me of an incident at, I think, one of the hospitals in the northern region I am not quite sure, but I think it was in that area where a group of 12 bikies came into the emergency department in a very intoxicated and drug-affected state.

There was very little these emergency doctors could do, and even the police were reluctant to become involved. We are seeing this sort of behaviour, whether it is bikie gang behaviour, whether it is Apex gang behaviour, whether it is other youth gang behaviour we are seeing, as other members have mentioned, an unprecedented amount of very violent crime on our streets.

I have to say that I was alarmed only last week when I was again in my electorate having a forum. I mentioned the issues of the gang activity that was occurring in suburban streets, and a number of people put their hands up and said, 'It has happened to me'. One said, 'I was actually held up by three youths, had a knife put to my throat and robbed in Malvern'. Another one said that their son's friend was carjacked in South Yarra. Another one was reported in the Herald Sun his daughters were the victims of assault outside a particular establishment in Church Street, Richmond. Another one had a home invasion. These were people going about their business, doing nothing wrong and being assaulted, being threatened, in a very violent fashion but what was really concerning to me was just how many people in a very small forum had had these violent crimes afflicted on them in recent times.

It just demonstrates that there is a clear issue out in our community that the law and order is out of control and that we do not have enough police on the beat. In the City of Glen Eira we have one divvy van that operates, and we have had home invasions and we have had very threatening behaviour, as has been reported, by youth gangs threatening Chinese students in Ormond. These are terrible crimes, and the police really are hamstrung there are not enough police to back one another up to deal with this crime wave that is occurring across our city and across our state. Seriously, we do have a new minister and I hope she is listening, because the Victorian community expects better than what we have got. They expect not just words, as were said by the Premier after the Moomba riots he spoke tough, but his actions so far have been softly, softly. He really needs to come out and say what he means, because by God the public are judging him on this. The police need all the support they can get. It is clear that there is real concern amongst the community.

In relation to this particular bill, in relation to what this is achieving, it does introduce minimum standards for those who attack custodial officers, and I think that is a very, very welcome move to bring in line with the reforms of the previous government those people who work on the front line, whether they are emergency workers or custodial officers. In relation to the component about sexual offences, sexual offence cases from the Children's Court are currently required to have evidence repeated in the County Court in appeals, and this causes duplication and unnecessary delays in many cases, but it also causes a re-traumatising of victims of the events. This will improve that situation. This is a sensible provision that will hopefully not allow that re-traumatising to occur for those people who have had sexual offences committed against them.

With those words I do, along with my colleagues, support the measures in this bill. I would reaffirm my points about the need for more police that is certainly a very real priority, and it should be a priority to keep the Victorian community safe.


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