MS TIERNEY (Minister for Training and Skills) — In exercising the right of reply I thank all speakers on this bill before the house. As many speakers have indicated, this is not a controversial bill. It is a bill that is a result of court decisions, and its purpose is to encapsulate greater efficiency and practice and to improve the efficacy of the justice system. It does this by improving the procedure for hearing expert evidence in criminal trials, simplifying attempt provisions where a reasonable belief in consent is an element of a sexual offence, ensuring relevant jury directions apply in all sexual offence cases and increasing the efficacy of Victoria’s criminal procedure law.
I do not wish to traverse those areas that have been well covered by contributing speakers to this debate this evening, but I have to say that you could not be forgiven for believing that this government is doing nothing in the area of community safety and combating crime. Just off the top of my head I can come up with a number of works that we have undertaken in this house as well as in terms of resource allocation, so I think it is particularly unfair to try and characterise the government’s active response in this area and say that we are doing very little, because we just happen to have before the house this evening a bill that essentially is to do with criminal procedure and court processes.
The things that this government has done, just by way of a taster, include dealing with and bringing through this house the Crimes Amendment (Carjacking and Home Invasion) Act 2016, the Bail Amendment Act 2016 — —
Mr O’Donohue interjected.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Melhem) — Order!
Ms TIERNEY — We made it a better bill, Mr O’Donohue. We made it a better bill. We doubled the maximum penalty for failure to appear. We added people charged with serious offences who had been convicted of failing to appear in the last five years to show cause in the bail category. We have also had the Sentencing (Community Correction Order) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2016, which removed the ability of courts to impose community correction orders for very serious offences and restricted — —
Mr O’Donohue interjected.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Melhem) — Order! Mr O’Donohue, I called you to order earlier and you kept continuing to interject non-stop. I will not ask you again. If you continue to interrupt, I am happy to call the President.
Ms TIERNEY — Thank you, Acting President. We have removed the ability of courts to impose community correction orders for very serious offences and restricted their availability for other offences.
We have also introduced and passed criminal organisation control amendments — that is, the Criminal Organisations Control Amendment (Unlawful Associations) Act 2015. Indeed, we also produced a community safety statement prior to Christmas. It is a $2 billion investment in Victoria Police which includes the recruitment of 2729 more police officers. We have also got the bail review, and that will be reporting in April. So no-one can come in here and say that we have done little in this space. We are doing a substantial amount in this space, and we are providing record amounts of money to back up what needs to be done in this space.
I thank all the speakers for making a contribution on this bill, but I did need to highlight the fact that some traversed areas in their contributions that are not contained in this bill, that do not reflect the reality and that do not provide a truthful assessment of what is happening in this state. In saying that, I wish to indicate that this bill is supported by all parties and individuals in this house. Therefore I commend the bill to the house.
Motion agreed to.
Read second time; by leave, proceeded to third reading.