Victoria Police Amendment (Validation) Bill 2015

Written on the 13 August 2015

 

Victoria Police Amendment (Validation) Bill 2015

04 August 2015

COUNCIL 

 

Second reading 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

I am pleased to rise this afternoon to speak briefly on the bill. As other members have said, the opposition is supporting the piece of legislation brought into the house. The community rightly expects a certain degree of certainty around policing and the way police undertake various activities. As other members have highlighted in their contributions, the bill is retrospective legislation due to a loophole that was found. The bill will amend the Victoria Police Act 2013 to, as I said, retrospectively validate prior authorisations for the operation of breath testing equipment and the performance of driver drug testing procedures by police members, the need for which was found through an auditing process.

There is no doubt that Victoria Police members have community safety at the foremost of their minds, particularly through road traffic control measures. From my experience in a previous life as a nurse, I have seen too many people maimed, disabled and indeed killed through alcohol-related driving incidents. The bill is a common-sense approach to fix a loophole in the principal act so people cannot be let off the hook. There were 660 invalid authorisations made to police officers under the legislation, which resulted in the invalidity of around 1400 drug and alcohol tests that had been undertaken. We are speaking about a significant number of tests here, and that is why it is important to get this legislation right. It is important the community has confidence in our police force undertaking the roles it needs to do.

I commend the work of the former Minister for Crime Prevention, Edward O'Donohue, who is in the chamber at the moment. He has an ongoing commitment to crime prevention. In terms of what the coalition did during its four years in office, it looked very seriously at various issues around policing and crime prevention. Without straying too much from the debate unlike others it is important to point out and put on the record the number of police that the coalition budgeted for: 1900 additional people became members of Victoria Police, making our community safer, and over 900 protective service officers (PSOs) were put on patrol across our rail networks. Only last week I heard of an incident where PSOs were able to make our community safer by detaining somebody on the rail network who had committed a crime. The coalition has a very strong record on law and order issues, and it is proud of that. We want to support the bill before the house to ensure that that community safety element is maintained, and this piece of legislation certainly does that.

My perspective is informed by the area I have responsibility for, which is family violence. Ms Fitzherbert made mention of police numbers. We know from the hearings of the Royal Commission into Family Violence about the enormous demand across our agencies and in terms of reporting to police. We need to ensure that police have the necessary backup and support to undertake their role in this very important area. As Ms Fitzherbert quite rightly pointed out, and as I have been saying, if the government has concerns in this area, it should not wait until the conclusion of the royal commission, it should act now. It is very important that women and children who are subject to family violence have confidence in our police. I heard Ms Shing's contribution on the bill, in which she mentioned the two-up policy. Some rural and regional areas of Victoria, which I know well, have one-man police stations. If they close down, where are these women going to go? How are they going to report a crime that has been or is about to be perpetrated against them?

We as a community rightly expect our police force to be strong in this area of community safety on traffic infringements and drug and alcohol testing. We need to be absolutely vigilant in this area. As other members have said, this bill will rectify an issue that has been identified and close a loophole, enabling appropriate testing to be undertaken. I conclude my contribution by saying, as other members have done, that I support this bill.

 


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