Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (11:39): I would like to speak briefly to Ms Maxwell’s motion,
which is understandably very close to our party’s heart. This motion is rightly ambitious and it ensures
that a holistic review of our justice system is undertaken. The motion can be broken down into three
components.
The first is an examination of Victoria’s ballooning prison population. As we know, there are a range
of factors contributing to Victoria’s growing prisons, which in many cases are at capacity. It is
fundamentally in the public’s interest to have a deeper look into why this is occurring. The second part
of the motion considers strategies to reduce rates of recidivism and reoffending. As Ms Maxwell notes,
currently more than 50 per cent of people incarcerated in Victoria subsequently reoffend. This number
is even more considerable within the youth justice system. Additionally, 43 per cent of all Victorian
prisoners are back in custody within just two years of being released. While this rate is comparable to
other states and territories, the Victorian government prides itself on investing more per capita on
prisoner rehabilitation programs than any other jurisdiction.
Despite this, there is little evidence that this is working as effectively as possible. Ms Maxwell and I
have been repetitive in our attempts to name worthwhile rehabilitative courses in this Parliament. Our
party is not simply about locking up criminals forever where it is safe and economical to do so; we
should be reintegrating some lower end offenders into society.
Finally, the motion requires the Legal and Social Issues Committee to examine the criteria and
processes used for the appointment of magistrates and judges. There are very few government
departments or organisations that attract as little public scrutiny as Victoria’s legal system. While I
commend the Attorney-General on recent reforms which aim to modernise our court systems, Derryn
Hinch’s Justice Party believes that greater transparency is still needed. There has long been social
commentary surrounding the suitability and expertise for judicial assignments, and the public is wary
of a system that in some cases continues to operate outside the sphere of public expectation. The
parliamentary inquiry into the strengths and weaknesses of our legal system is therefore not only
essential; it is urgently required.
I understand that there is no silver bullet, there is no single fix, to address the structural issues which
sometimes exist in our key institutions, and that is the point of this motion—to establish a wideranging
inquiry so that we as lawmakers can determine how best to address any deficiencies which exist within
our legal system. While I note that parliamentary committees are key in ensuring effective scrutiny of
lawmakers, it is not our intention that this referral become a forum for criticism of Victorian judges
and magistrates. The intention of this motion is simple—to consider what aspects of our institutions
could be improved.
I commend Ms Maxwell on this motion and hope it passes. By the sounds of it, it will, which is great.
I look forward to overseeing the needed debate it fosters in the Legal and Social Issues Committee.