New laws in limbo

05 Sep 2018 • Herald Sun, Melbourne (General News)
by Monique Hore

Time running out to close loopholes NEW laws that would crack down on thugs who assault police and paramedics still haven’t passed State Parliament, with just a handful of sitting days left before the November election.

The Andrews Government announced urgent changes to mandatory sentencing laws in May, after a loophole saw two women who viciously assaulted a paramedic avoid jail.

Draft laws were introduced to parliament’s lower house in June, where Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the government was “acting quickly and thoroughly to fix the deficiencies with these laws”.

After passing the lower house on July 26, they are yet to be debated in the upper house.

Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto said there were only days left in which to pass the urgent laws.

“Daniel Andrews’ delay means the legal changes needed may not even be passed before the last sitting week in Parliament in two week’s time, leaving emergency workers without the protection they deserve,” he said.

Ambulance union secretary Danny Hill said there had been a number of incidents since the promise of tougher laws, including one in which a bystander threatened to get a gun and “blow” the heads off a patient transport crew last week.

“There are assaults on paramedics, statistically, every 30-40 hours,” Mr Hill said. Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt said he believed the laws would be passed within the next fortnight.

“The nature of police work exposes our members to physical danger and vulnerability every day,” Mr Gatt said.

“We have argued for some time that that will only be mitigated by stronger legislation and penalties against those who assault police.”

The agenda for this parliamentary sitting week lists the bill as the ninth to be dealt with.

The new laws would make injuring an emergency services work a category 1 offence, like murder or rape – which carries a jail term.

It will also remove alcohol consumption and drug use as special reasons to avoid prison.

A spokesman for the government said it had a “significant legislative program” that covered bail, sentencing and parole to keep the community safe.

About the Author