MS TIERNEY (Minister for Training and Skills) (09:36:47) — I rise to inform the house of Labor’s steady progress on making Victoria safe. Labor has increased frontline police by over 640 since 2014. As we would all be aware, this has led to a 6.3 per cent decrease in the last crime stats report. This is the second consecutive decrease in crime across the state as reported by the Crime Statistics Agency. This is the result of hard work right across the justice sector, with a series of reforms making a difference on our streets.
Of course today we have announced a further investment in our corrections system, because Labor has always known that by putting more police on the beat we would see greater demand in our prisons. This comes after we opened Ravenhall Correctional Centre, but we are planning for the future.
Labor has been planning for the increase in remanded and sentenced prisoners that our investments in community safety are going to drive. We have not been caught in a mad panic like those opposite, rushing in shipping containers and jamming in double bunking — and of course that failure to plan by the coalition led to a record number of escapes, contributed to the Metropolitan Remand Centre riot and saw the recidivism rate rise to the highest it has been in living memory. The policies of the coalition saw our recidivism rate jump, meaning that our prisons were turning out offenders that were almost guaranteed to offend again.
In utter contrast, this investment is part of Labor’s plan to ensure that we stay ahead of demand so that our prisons are safe and effective. This ensures that our prisons are safer places to work and that prisoners are placed in safe and secure environments.
Mr Ondarchie — On a point of order, President, the purpose of a ministers statement, in our understanding, is to bring new initiatives and policies to the attention of the house. The minister has spent the bulk of her time criticising the former government. I did not think that was an element of a ministers statement. I ask you to bring her back to the core reasons for a ministers statement.
Ms TIERNEY — Further to the point of order, President, I have provided an update to the house — a new initiative, a new resource package that was on the front page of the Herald Sun, and I have provided the context in which that announcement has been made.
The PRESIDENT — In regard to the point of order, I do uphold the point of order in the respect that a ministers statement, as the minister just also indicated, is about new initiatives — and yes, it is possible for the minister to cover a range of other initiatives that fit within that new initiative, that perhaps support it or are a continuation of programs, and that is clearly within the scope of a ministers statement and informative to the house.
However, I share Mr Ondarchie’s concern that there was commentary on the previous government and on the opposition, and that is not part of a ministers statement. So in future ministers should refrain from that commentary and reflection on other parties and continue to present to the house the new initiatives. As I said, yes, the continuation, the context of other initiatives that might have been taken, is relevant to that new initiative.
Ms TIERNEY — This investment is part of Labor’s plans to ensure that we stay ahead of demand so that our prisons are safe and effective. This ensures that our prisons are safer places to work and that prisoners are placed in safe and secure environments. This ensures we prioritise rehabilitation and drive down recidivism. This careful planning means Victorian communities are safer and always will be under Labor.