Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (12:36): My question is for the Attorney-General. In the aftermath of the infamous Jackson Williams case and his subsequent acquittal of the charge of assault with intent to commit a sexual offence, our party called out for a new offence of grab and drag. Your predecessor, Ms Hennessy, asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to look into deficiencies within this space. The commission delivered its additional report on the proposed new grab and drag offence as well as its interim report on stalking to you in December 2021. These were tabled yesterday, but there is no mandate for the government to respond to each recommendation, as opposed to parliamentary committee reports. I understand the stalking inquiry still has its full report due midyear and that Victoria Police have already implemented a few recommendations from the interim report. Therefore, Attorney, will the government be providing a formal response to these two VLRC reports, and if so, when can we expect that response?
Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (12:39): Thanks, Attorney. I was pleased that the VLRC did recommend a new aggravated factor for assault where it is an apprehension of a victim, similar to a grab and drag. This law change was supported by the victims of crime commissioner, Sexual Assault Services Victoria, Victoria Police and a small number, 114 300-odd, of outraged community members who signed a petition for the change. The VLRC’s chair, Anthony North QC, said that people harmed by this conduct experience a level of trauma that is not recognised under the current law and that changing the law would signal to the community the seriousness of this conduct. The Premier said, ‘I think there’s a very clear acknowledgement that we need to do more’, signalling, in my view, the government’s endorsement of the recommendations. In contrast, a government spokesman told the Herald Sun yesterday, ‘We will carefully examine the recommendations’. Attorney, will the government listen to stakeholders, including the victims of crime commissioner, and implement this aggravating circumstance to the Crimes Act 1958 to address the deficiency in this legislation within this term of Parliament?