Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (11:05): I rise to speak briefly on the Crimes Amendment
(Manslaughter and Related Offences) Bill 2020. I want to start by commending the Attorney-General,
and by extension the government, on this bill. While these reforms are long overdue, I am glad to help
these proposals finally become law. Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party will be supporting this bill.
I would like to speak briefly to some of the changes the bill proposes, many of which the public would
be surprised currently do not even exist. These include creating the new offence of homicide by
firearm; clarifying the relationship between the offences of manslaughter, child homicide and
homicide by firearm; and increasing the maximum penalties for the offences of manslaughter and
child homicide. Each of the above reforms goes some way in addressing the shortfalls in current
sentencing practices for murder by homicide charges. They are therefore vital in ensuring greater
public safety. I also hope that this bill is an indication of where the government is heading in terms of
clarifying any confusion about how different manslaughter and homicide charges can be employed.
While I am glad to support this bill, it is not perfect. The amendments proposed and circulated by
Ms Maxwell aim to address these shortcomings. South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern
Territory and Queensland all have maximum sentences of life for manslaughter. These jurisdictions
have made a concerted effort to ensure that their laws reflect the seriousness of the crimes which are
committed. I commend Ms Maxwell on these amendments and call on both sides of the chamber to
support them. While the government has noted that existing penalties are largely inadequate for such
offences and has legislated to change this, it is our view that the proposed maximum term of
imprisonment of 25 years is not in line with public expectations. These amendments bring it into line
with public expectation.
In addition to this it should be noted that despite the government only passing its industrial
manslaughter bill late last year, it is seemingly already amending that legislation. The bill which we
debated last year set a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years for those who oversee the death of
an employee while at work, yet before that legislation has even come into effect it is already being
amended. The government believes either it was wrong with its industrial manslaughter bill last year
or it is wrong now with the imprisonment changes. Serious laws should not be changed so flippantly.
While those responsible for any death should be held to account with the greatest severity of the law,
I am sure many of the public would agree that murdering someone with a firearm and indirectly
causing murder on a worksite through safety neglect should attract different penalties. That discretion
and flexibility in terms of sentencing that the public expects is not included in this bill. Ms Maxwell’s
amendments also aim to address this.
In summing up I want to reinforce the point that Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party will be supporting the
bill. It is a crucial bill which addresses far-reaching and needed change, and I look forward to the
passage of this legislation. I hope the chamber also supports Ms Maxwell’s amendments.