My matter, for the Attorney General, yet again relates to the non-custodial sentencing of those who assault emergency services workers. I am obviously yet to see its precise content (and will reserve full judgement until I do).  However, I do very much welcome the news from this morning of the Attorney General’s introduction of a Bill that apparently takes up the longstanding call of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and many other Victorians that minimum sentencing laws in this area need to be strengthened. Unfortunately, until now, we have seen very little enforcement of the Premier’s words of 20 June 2018 that “courts will have to impose a custodial sentence and will not be able to sentence offenders to a community correction order or other non-custodial outcome, even after determining that special reasons apply”. Among all the instances of non-custodial sentences for these attacks, it’s doubtful there are many clearer examples of the problem than the Aroub Arop case from only two weeks ago. Arop has been found guilty of at least 44 assaults, including on three paramedics, two police officers, and a protective services officer.  Yet, astoundingly, it appears he has never been in custody for longer than 14 days (let alone for any minimum six month term).  Reportedly, he has also continued to rely heavily on a defence of being alcohol affected during the assaults. Frustratingly, however, this is all difficult to verify, given the complexity of accessing Magistrate Pithouse’s 18th February sentencing remarks about his decision to merely impose on Arop a Community Corrections Order and an alcohol ban. President, given the latter point in particular, the action I seek tonight is clarification from the Attorney General whether (and when) Victorians will be given greater access to court transcripts.
I realise that she continues to undertake considerable work in implementing most of the recommendations of Justice Vincent’s Open Courts Act Review, particularly around the reduced use of suppression orders.  I am indeed grateful for the briefings her staff have provided to our party about that work.  More broadly, though, I would be interested in knowing if, in the future, there will be more transparency attached to exactly what judges and magistrates (as well as the prosecution and defence) are saying in Victorian court cases. I recognise this was possible in the recent Haberfield appeal.  However, in the Arop example and most other cases, Victorians can typically not even access a transcript of the sentencing remarks – let alone the rest of the proceedings.