Amendment- Serious Offenders and Other Matters Bill 2019

As I outlined in my speech earlier, the purpose here is really quite simple, I am merely seeking to ensure that the government takes the step of proactively advising the relevant victims of crime of their right, a right already enshrined in law, to receive a share of a compensation payout. That is, I am asking that a relevant victim or victims are notified by the government as soon as a compensation payment of $10 000 or more is awarded to a particular, current or former prisoner or person on remand. Under the way this presently operates, some victims are never told about such a thing at all. Through this amendment I am not objecting to the reasons for these compensation payouts, nor am I seeking to disrupt or even amend the fundamentals of the government’s existing policy on the Prisoner Compensation Quarantine Fund itself. What I am doing is trying to improve the way it is administered. One thing that I did not do in my speech earlier, which may be appropriate for me to do now, is to quickly cite some of the words of the relevant Labor minister at the time when the relevant parts of the Corrections Act 1986 were first introduced into the Parliament in 2008. Then Minister for Corrections, Bob Cameron, said on 31 July 2008 that the Brumby government was: “committed to empowering victims to exercise all of their available rights and remedies to seek compensation” … He also spoke of the need to: …” address the situation where an offender receives an award of damages from the state and therefore has a much improved financial situation. Victims can then choose to take advantage of that improved financial situation”. And he spoke of: … “the perceived inequity when offenders are seen to use the law for their own purposes through pursuing compensation arising from their circumstances in custody”.

In many respects I could not put it better myself, given that I think those sentiments would be best honoured in practice by making sure that victims know of this entitlement each time it arises. I commend this amendment to the house.