What do the parties and candidates say about policing and legal reform in Victoria?
Content Warning: Indigenous deaths in custody, family violence (no explicit detail), youth incarceration.
For this article, we are looking at policing and legal issues. What are the parties’ policies in this area?
Ministers: Lisa Neville (Police), Natalie Hutchins (Victim Support; Corrections, Youth Justice and Crime Prevention)
The Andrews government established the Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2015. They have legislated for family and domestic violence leave.
Labor policies include connecting youth in juvenile detention with education, vocational training and mental health support. They have pledged to reduce the amount of young people in the justice system, particularly for overrepresented groups (e.g. First Nations youth). Though, they have backed down from proposed youth justice laws, such as raising the age of criminal responsibility.
Shadow Ministers: Matthew Bach (Child Protection and Youth Justice), Brad Battin (Police; Emergency Services; Community Safety and Victim Support; Corrections)
The Liberals propose measuring and improving response times for Victoria Police (as is done for other emergency services). They also want to expand mental health services for police and protective service officers, using the BlueHub program.
The Liberals also emphasise greater action on domestic violence. This includes extending the Family Violence Implementation Monitor (FVRIM), which is examining how well the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence are being implemented.
Spokesperson: Tim Read (Justice)
The Greens propose closing some prisons (and hiring less police officers), reinvesting the money in housing, health and crime prevention. This would be overseen by a proposed Minister for Justice Reinvestment. They also want much more funding for Legal Aid.
The Greens want to reform bail laws, to make it easier for low level offenders to get bail. They also want to repeal the use of mandatory minimum sentences for crimes.
The Greens also want much greater scrutiny on police and prison management, including to end First Nations deaths in custody.
Legalise Cannabis has a pretty clear policy, to legalise cannabis (namely for personal use). They describe the “war on drugs” as a costly failure that should be abandoned. Legalising cannabis would take pressure off the court system, and be a less harmful alternative to other drugs.
Conversely, Family First specifically wants to “enforce the law on drug supply and possession” along with closing drug injection centres. They want more programs to help people become free of drug addiction, including for young offenders.
Effectively the tough on crime party, the main complaint of the Derryn Hinch Justice Party is that the justice system is too soft on criminals. Their policies include "justice in sentencing" (i.e. tougher sentencing), "bail reform" (i.e. less bail), "parole reform" (i.e. less parole) and "a public register of convicted sex offenders.” They also want stronger action on domestic violence, and reforming the Family Court (e.g. making it less traumatic for children or victims to testify).
The Freedom Party has an extensive policy on firearms, which they want to be much more freely available - including recognising hunting as a “divine right.” Specific policies include for semiautomatic weapons (available for farmers with 100+ acres), handguns (creating an option for a carry permit), along with paintball devices (to be available without a licence).
Derryn Hinch Justice Party