MS TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) (11:57:06) — I will make some summation remarks, but before I do so I would like to extend my thoughts and condolences to Angela Taylor’s family and friends, and also indicate that my thoughts are absolutely with all of those who were injured and with the families and friends of those who were injured, who were impacted as well as a result of what occurred on Russell Street outside police headquarters.
The objective of the bill is to ensure that any prisoner — including the prisoner, Craig Minogue — who is convicted of murdering a police officer is denied parole except in very restrictive circumstances. As members are aware, this bill responds to a decision of the High Court challenge brought by Craig Minogue. The government was obviously disappointed with the High Court’s decision. It was not consistent with the intent behind our parole regime. The High Court handed down its decision on 20 June this year, and the government said publicly that it would introduce legislation to address the decision in the next sitting week of Parliament, and this is what it has done. The government’s bill sends a clear message that the murder of a police officer — someone who serves and protects our community and risks their life to do so — is the most serious example of the most serious crime.
Opposition members today have claimed that the government could have simply backed its parole bill in 2016. This is wrong. The opposition’s bill was introduced into Parliament on 23 November 2016. This was before the High Court upheld similar legislation which applies to Julian Knight. That decision of the High Court, which found the legislation constitutionally valid, was not handed down until 17 August 2017. The opposition’s bill, we believe, is flawed in that it would have done only half the job. Its only purpose was to amend the Corrections Act 1986 to name Craig Minogue. The opposition’s bill did nothing else. The opposition’s bill did not allow for other prisoners who kill police — murderers. Unlike the government’s bill, the opposition’s bill was not concerned generally about the safety of police officers in the crucial work they do to keep our community safe. The opposition’s bill was all about political pointscoring and had nothing to do with addressing the issue at hand, which is ensuring a tough parole regime for people convicted of killing police officers. Our bill by contrast is comprehensive.
Opposition members have raised the issue of this statement of compatibility for this bill. The statement of compatibility considers that the bill limits rights in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. This is based on European and international jurisprudence, noting that the Minogue High Court decision —
The PRESIDENT — Order! Thank you, Minister. This is the appropriate time to go to questions without notice.
Business interrupted pursuant to sessional orders.