21 June 2018
Mr PESUTTO (Hawthorn) (14:24:20) — I wish to express on behalf of the opposition parties our opposition to the motion moved by the Leader of the House. We learned yesterday of a monumental stuff-up by the government in relation to legislation that was supposed to keep one of Victoria’s worst cop killers behind bars.
Craig Minogue is at present entitled to proceed with his application for bail, and this government does not think that is serious enough to warrant further sittings of this house to deal with that as an urgent priority. It is clearly more interested in focusing on matters of political interest, including party donation changes that it wants to make that will see tens of thousands, indeed millions, of dollars go into the coffers of the Labor Party at taxpayer expense, off the back of $400 000 that was rorted from the Victorian people, together with around $1 million or so, maybe more, in total legal costs wasted on a matter before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court. After all of that the government is prepared to obsess about those things, putting its own political interest first.
We have a complete fiasco around a piece of legislation the government arrogantly persisted with, when in the previous government valid and effective legislation was passed to keep Julian Knight behind bars. Further to that, in the other place Mr Ed O’Donohue introduced a bill along the lines of the Julian Knight one that would keep Craig Minogue behind bars. Do you know when he did that? He did it two years ago. Acting Speaker, it is with no pleasure that I say that your government blocked it. That bill sits in the upper house. It could be transmitted to this house today and we could deal with this matter because we now break for a recess, do we not? And in that period, as we understand the implications of the High Court’s position, Mr Minogue is free to proceed with his parole application. That is what the High Court said. Let there be no doubt that this was a monumental stuff-up by the government. The High Court in part of its judgement says this, and I quote from the decision a reference to a particular subsection which is pertinent:
Those drafting the subsection could reasonably have supplied words to this effect had it been intended that the board —
the Adult Parole Board of Victoria —
was to conduct an enquiry into facts other than those which formed the basis for the prisoner’s sentencing. It is no function of the courts to fill in gaps in legislation.
There you have it: the plurality of the High Court effectively condemning the drafting by this government, which now sees one of the worst-ever cop killers free to proceed with his application for parole. The question that the Victorian people will have is: what are we prepared to do as a Parliament? We have said to the government overnight, ‘Pass the legislation that is in the upper house and then bring it down here so we can pass it today’.
What is the government’s response? The government says it will need time. How much time do they need? Is two years not enough for a valid piece of legislation that sits in the upper house ready for passage today in both houses? It says it needs advice. It is always saying it needs advice, and yet it keeps getting things wrong. To give you a recent example on the special reasons, the government said it would deal with assaults on emergency workers like paramedics and police officers. We have a bill introduced this week that now will sit in this house over the recess when, had the government allowed our bill that does exist to pass, we could have dealt with that matter weeks ago. Here we are. The government wants to race off to a recess and again put its feet up when we have important work of the highest priority before us: we have a High Court decision that leaves Mr Minogue free to proceed with his parole application.
Victorians might well ask whether they are being governed by a Premier and ministers who are serious about putting their safety first or who are more committed to taking time off over the recess, putting their own political and personal interests first, before we deal with a matter of the highest importance. I want to say to everybody watching, Victorians far and wide, that we on this side of the house understand how important their safety is and are committed to fighting for it.