My constituency question is to Attorney General (Hon. Jill Hennessy)
COVID-19 has pressured our society in ways we possibly didn’t think possible.
Whilst mass gatherings of 100+ have been outlawed, whilst sporting clubs cancel practice and games, whilst companies send their employees into self-isolation, our courts are still packed out.
Yesterday, thousands flowed through Melbourne Magistrates Court and hundreds through regional courts as well.
A lawyer in my electorate has contacted me saying all non-essential mention hearings should be cancelled to limit many people in small courtrooms but that all bail and remand applications, cases where people are in custody awaiting their court date and family violence matters should remain processed as a priority.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to say that our court systems are clogged however this is short term pain for long term gain in my eyes. If our Magistrates, defence lawyers and police prosecutors go down, our court system goes down with it.
Further, there are still prisoners being transported into courts for their hearings. Pending victims and their families are notified, I think we should be doing all we can to ensure coronavirus doesn’t get into our prisons, where once it’s there, it’s extremely hard to be contained. We should be cancelling all transport of prisoners to court for matters and asking them to instead appear via Audio Visual Link to reduce the likelihood of coronavirus spreading into our prisons
My question is – Can the Minister indicate if the State Government are considering measures such as those mentioned, to reduce the spread of coronavirus in our courts and prisons but to keep our court system flowing?