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Legislative Council

07 February 2024
Evan Mulholland  (LIB)


Evan MULHOLLAND (Northern Metropolitan) (14:16): This is an important motion and one that I think needs to be taken quite seriously. I know my colleague Dr Heath made some great points in regard to police station closures, and other members for Northern Metropolitan might be interested in this point: in 2021 the then Andrews government actually invested $15 million in a new Reservoir police station – quite good. It was to be open 24/7. Lisa Neville showed up and did a great ceremony about what Labor was delivering, only for them to at the end of last year reduce the hours to just 8 hours a day – just 8 hours a day. In a part of the world, in my electorate, where crime is on the increase this is how they treat community and also treat taxpayer funds. If you expand a facility to make sure it is open 24/7, surely you have got the resources to be able to keep it open. I was pretty shocked when that was savagely closed.

But I just want to go to some of the points Ms Terpstra was raising. She said what we are putting forward is a big scare. It is actually quite a sensible motion. It does talk about justice reinvestment, and it does talk about making sure there are proper rehabilitation programs that are not being cut by Tim Pallas. Offender incidents amongst 10- to 14-year-olds are up 32 per cent. That is a fact. And it is 33 per cent amongst 15- to 17-year-olds. But here you have got the government, in the same cohort in which those figures are increasing by record levels, wanting to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

I mentioned the Declan Cutler issue, a teenager who was brutally murdered by another group of teenagers in my electorate, which affected many people in the northern suburbs. How can anyone on the government side look Declan’s mother in the eye and say that 14-year-old should not have got 10 years jail for killing her son? I know I could not. I do not understand how they are even contemplating raising the age of criminal responsibility, but this is what we have when a government is out of touch with community sentiment. Lots of people have been affected by crime. I have never seen so many people that have firsthand and second-hand accounts of incidents and are affected by crime. We saw it just in the CBD last night, where 15 youths got on a tram and started robbing people and shoving people up against the wall. Thankfully, police arrested three of them, but these are the kinds of issues Victorians have to deal with every single day.

I also heard Ms Terpstra – and I think it is quite preposterous – actually make the link and try to say the way that we can keep people out of prison is with free kinder. Seriously? You have got Tim Pallas cutting crucial rehabilitation programs to keep people out of prison, but apparently free kinder – ‘free’ kinder, taxpayer-subsidised kinder – is a way to keep people out of prison.

I think we need a government with serious solutions. As you know, Deputy President, I am very interested in this space. I have done a lot of research in this space. I was chatting the other day to Jesuit Social Services, who have a lot of great ideas on how we can reform the justice system and actually invest in rehabilitation and reform, because criminal justice reform is not only an economic good, it is a moral good for society, for a person, for redemption and to get people back on track. They will then contribute to their communities and the economy as well and get the best start in life. Yet we have got a situation where we are paying upwards of $150,000 a year, every year, to keep people in prison and the recidivism rate keeps going up. When you have got almost half of all prisoners, particularly in youth justice, returning to prison within two years, that is a deep concern. We should actually be investing into those programs that get people out of prison. I think this motion should be supported.

Council divided on motion: