Bail Amendment (Stage Two) Bill 2017

This is one of a suite of many bills that we are bringing to this Parliament that are tough on crime and also tough on the causes of crime. I spoke on a justice bill yesterday which is part of the action that this government is taking in a very collegial way, led by our Attorney-General and our police minister, who are very engaged in this work. I do not think we saw that with the previous government.

With this particular bill, the Bail Amendment (Stage Two) Bill 2017 that is before the house, there was a lot of talk. I have been in the Parliament now for 15 years, and there was a lot of talk during the previous Parliament about being tough on crime and about taking action on things. We had the Callinan review, which was brought about by the previous government, and we supported that action at the time because it came at the time of that horrific tragedy — the loss of Jill Meagher — that just moved everyone in Melbourne and Victoria so much, especially because she worked in the media. I think that everyone could just see Jill as being their wife, their daughter or their sister. It was the right thing to do, which was why we immediately said we would support the previous government in anything that was required, because the perpetrator of that horrific crime was a recidivist and on bail at the time.

It was quite disappointing to see that two years on, at the time of the election, a lot of those proposals had not actually been enacted. Now it is five years or more since the sad loss of Jill Meagher and those opposite are running a huge scare campaign, manipulating figures and trying to say that this is not a safe place and that this government does not take these matters seriously.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is an absolute long lead time. When you have an increase in crime there is a long lead time before the actual causes of that come out — when you cut services to the community, when you close TAFE colleges, when you remove VCAL coordination, when you cut government schools and when you do not build new schools in growth corridors.

I heard the Leader of the Opposition being interviewed by Jon Faine yesterday, being incredibly belligerent and bullying — it really was Jeff Kennett junior, I felt — attacking the man rather than actually responding to the issue, trying to manipulate figures and trying to throw fuel on the fire to say that there is a crisis in the criminal justice system in this state. He has been incredibly irresponsible in the commentary he has made. This is the world’s most livable city, and yet he made comments comparing this fantastic city with a weak state and a state that has had enormous problems for many decades as a result of the apartheid regime. The comparison he made was between Melbourne and Johannesburg, which has a huge murder rate and a huge road toll and is a hugely violent society. That is hugely irresponsible and is beneath someone who would seek the great office of Premier and seek to lead this state. I decry that comparison.

One of the things that the Leader of the Opposition kept saying to Jon Faine on ABC radio yesterday morning was, ‘Jon, go to the outer suburbs. It is lawless out there. It is terrible’. Let us see what the architecture might be behind some of what is lacking and what he is trying to present as lacking in the outer suburbs and in the growth suburbs. That man, the Leader of the Opposition, was the Minister for Planning under the previous government. He was also a member for Northern Metropolitan Region in the other place. He supposedly represented my electorate. He tried to represent my electorate in 2002, but fortunately for the community I beat him. He had to wait another four years to get into Parliament.

But in the previous government the Leader of the Opposition was the Minister for Planning. Not one dollar of community infrastructure came to my community. In the fastest growing postcode in the state and in the country, in Mernda and Doreen, he did nothing. We had no secondary schools delivered. We had no expansion of public transport. In fact we had cuts. We also had the closure of a TAFE campus in the then Leader of the Opposition’s electorate. He was completely and absolutely silent on that. He was one of the local MPs, but he rarely set foot in the place. His office was in Rosanna. In fact we had almost no presence from that government in what was the most populous electorate in the state up to the last state election, with 70 000 electors off the back of an average now of 37 000, which is the mean that has been set by the Electoral Boundaries Commission — almost double what was required.

Did the Leader of the Opposition stand up for that community at any stage? Did members of his government stand up for that community? No. There was a community campaign for a new police station to be built at Mernda which was led by Tom Joseph, who has now been elected to Whittlesea City Council. Tom Joseph was a member of the Liberal Party, but he has completely walked away from the party because the then Minister for Police and Emergency Services, the member for Rowville, would not even meet with them. He would not set foot in the place. The member for Williamstown behind me knows full well that when he was the shadow minister and then when he was the minister he met repeatedly with that community. When the member for Bendigo East was the shadow minister they met repeatedly with that community because we are engaged in talking to people about what their needs are.

However, the Leader of the Opposition did nothing, and there was no police station built. We have now built a police station there. It is operational. You can see on the ground that we have reopened the TAFE, we have got two secondary colleges now in that postcode and kids can connect in to learning. But I think there is a connection to that time. The Leader of the Opposition is trying to whip up fear in Tarneit and in the south-east. He wants his lobster mobster mates in the south-east — mates of Inga Peulich, a member in the other place — to get in, and they are running a false and misleading campaign around law and order in this state. I decry their campaign.

We absolutely have our eyes on the game. We have restored funding to TAFE. We have reopened TAFE campuses. We actually give a damn about young people. We also give a damn about the victims of crime and about those who are impacted by crime. Yesterday we saw that those opposite could not even stand up to speak on a criminal justice bill because they are so involved in looking at their phones and doing the numbers for who is going to be the leader of their party. Why wouldn’t they want to change a leader who sits down and has dinner with organised crime figures, who was a complete failure as a planning minister and did nothing for our growing suburbs and who is now crying crocodile tears and saying he cares about communities in our growing suburbs and their safety? They do not care. We do care. We are making changes.

I commend the bill to the house.