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Mr O'DONOHUE (Eastern Victoria) — I move:
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Crimes Amendment (Ramming of Police Vehicles) Bill 2017 is to create a new criminal offence for the ramming of a police vehicle.
Victorians are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated police force made of men and women committed to protecting the community and upholding the law.
However, with the rising crime Victoria has experienced over the last two and a half years, our police are under attack like never before.
In an alarming trend, more and more offenders who seek to evade police are ramming police vehicles with little regard for the serious danger posed.
In the 2015–16 financial year 14 officers were hurt as a result of a police vehicle ramming, and if the trend continues, lives will continue to be put at risk.
The number of police vehicles rammed has more than tripled under Daniel Andrews, increasing from 30 in 2013–14 to 103 in 2015–16 and to more than 115 so far in 2016–17.
This trend is not confined to metropolitan Melbourne, with recent ramming incidents in Warrnambool and Ballarat.
This must be stopped and offenders given the punishment they deserve and that the community expects.
Unfortunately current penalties are failing to deliver the deterrence needed. As Police Association secretary, Wayne Gatt, has said:
Legislative amendment is needed now to send the strongest possible message to offenders that if you threaten or assault a police officer, or engage in behaviour like this then you are going to have plenty of time to reflect on it from a prison cell.
Despite the clear risk to police, the increasing number of rammings and the calls to action, Daniel Andrews refuses to act.
In the absence of leadership from the Andrews government, I introduce this legislation on behalf of the Liberal-Nationals coalition to ensure there is a strong deterrent to these offenders.
The bill provides for a two-year statutory minimum and 10-year maximum jail term for those who commit the new offence of ramming a police vehicle, with any term of imprisonment to be served cumulatively, not concurrently.
As legislators the least we can do is provide our hardworking police men and women the support they need as they confront the crime wave facing Victoria.
I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned on motion of Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria).
Debate adjourned until Wednesday, 5 July.