Justice Legislation Amendment (Victims) Bill 2017

I am really pleased to be joining the debate on the Justice Legislation Amendment (Victims) Bill 2017. Across the other side of this chamber there has been no appearance, Your Worship — no appearance. For all the fire and fury that we hear in the media from those opposite and the whipping up of fear while saying that they stand on the side of victims, let Hansard record that I am the fourth government speaker on this bill and those on the other side were not able to muster more than three. That is despite all their fire and fury, all their fear tactics, all their misrepresentation of crime statistics, and the shameful and false comparison of this most livable city which, like many other great cities, has its issues with crime, which we are addressing. But the other side shamefully compared this great city — the most livable city — with a city that has many difficulties: Cape Town. That is what the Leader of the Opposition did.

An honourable member interjected.

Ms Green — Johannesburg, I beg your pardon. Thank you. It was Johannesburg, and he made that comparison. We have had the interference from Peter Dutton in Queensland, and unlike any —

Mr Burgess interjected.

Ms Green — You could have had your say, member for Hastings, and actually stood in your place and spoken on this bill before me, so don’t you interject. You could have gotten up and spoken on behalf of victims in your community.

Mr Scott — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, there is an interjection across the table, which is disorderly.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Pearson) — Order! Interjections of that nature are disorderly. The member for Yan Yean to continue, without assistance.

Ms Green — Thank you, Acting Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition also could have had the opportunity to speak on this bill right now. If he wanted to actually make a contribution on this debate, if he was actually serious, if he actually had any bona fides about sitting in the Premier’s chair and if he actually did want to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime and wanted to ensure that victims are cared for, he and his team would be speaking on this bill. It is an abject disgrace that he has welshed it and that he is not interested at all.

Back to that Peter Dutton person from Queensland — how dare he! He will not even set foot in this state but will massively overreach and say that, for people in this state, it is not safe to go out for dinner. I went out for dinner last Saturday night and I went out last Wednesday night.

Ms Kealy — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I note that the speaker who is currently debating the Justice Legislation Amendment (Victims) Bill 2017 has significantly strayed from the debate. This has been quite focused. I think everyone has been quite respectful in actually speaking on victims of crime, particularly children who have been sexually assaulted and victims of sexual assault. I really do ask the member to come back to the debate and the bill that is before us.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Pearson) — There are a number of provisions within the bill and the debate has been fairly wideranging in order to cover those matters, but I would encourage the member for Yan Yean to return to some of those aspects of the bill.

Ms Green — Thank you. I am more than pleased that the member for Lowan has gotten to her feet, and in her point of order she said that this bill pertains to children, and children who have been victims of crime and victims of sexual crimes. Rather than get up to raise a point of order and silence me, she could have gotten up and spoken herself.

Ms Kealy — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, perhaps if the member for Yan Yean had been more attentive she would have noticed that I was actually the lead speaker for the National Party and that I spoke for a full 10 minutes in regard to this bill. Perhaps if she had some interest, she would like to go back and read my contribution in Hansard.

Ms Green — I do apologise to the member for Lowan. I was in an important meeting pertaining to Plenty and Yan Yean roads, in my electorate, immediately prior to 5 o’clock. I do commend her for having the courage to speak on this bill when other members of the opposition have not.

I grew up in the Western District of Victoria, and I saw firsthand what happened to victims. I commend the members, particularly the member for Thomastown and the member for Broadmeadows, who worked so diligently in the parliamentary committee and on the report, Betrayal of Trust. The most fundamental thing that we can do as legislators is to support the measure in this bill that seeks to address what has occurred — that the perpetrators of those heinous, heinous crimes, those betrayals of trust, have been able to use their supposed good character and lack of priors to mitigate the sentence that was applied to them for their crimes. I really want to commend the committee for that work and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at the federal level, which has seen these matters come to light. I could not support more strongly that measure in this bill.

I will just remind the house that I have spoken many times on matters pertaining to these terrible crimes. I grew up in the Ballarat diocese, and I knew personally Father Gerald Ridsdale, Father Claffey and that terrible piece of work, Brother Dowlan. I saw the violence that Brother Dowlan used to perpetrate in hitting boys across the head — boys who were the same age as me — when we were doing musical performances together. Those people should rot where they are. People like them should never be able to claim good character when it was in fact their supposed good character and their position in the community that allowed them to undertake those horrible, horrible crimes. I support that measure, particularly in memory of the victims who are no longer with us or those who have not been able to speak.

On the matter of whether victims are able to get redress, I am very pleased to see that there is a measure in the bill that takes away the two-year time limit that victims have previously had to apply for compensation. As we have heard, as we have read in the Betrayal of Trust report and as we have seen in the matters before the royal commission, it can be many, many decades before these crimes are reported or before victims are even able to speak, whether they have been supported or not. So this is a very sensible amendment.

I am proud to be part of a government that is tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime and compassionate to victims. As we heard earlier today in the condolence motion, Andrew McCutcheon, a previous attorney-general, was a visionary in looking at restorative justice, changing the operation of community legal services and providing support for victims. I commend the bill to the house, and I decry the opposition, which has stopped speaking on this bill.