Constituency question- Recently released sex offender

My constituency question is for the Attorney-General.

It follows numerous concerns raised with me by constituents in Beechworth about the whereabouts of a recently-released sex offender. I ask the Attorney-General to clarify under what circumstances or conditions someone previously convicted of sexually assaulting 16 young boys would be free to live within close proximity of a school, to change their name and to work where children are present?

Constituency Question- Illegal tobacco

My matter, for the Police Minister, is about the worsening problems in the illegal supply and sale of tobacco in Northern Victoria.

Constituency Question- Delivery of bushfire community grants

My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services. Whilst obviously pleased the Government is providing various forms of assistance for those most affected by the State’s terrible recent bushfires (including in my electorate), I am also disturbed that some of the grants following previous bushfires have still not been correctly delivered.

Adjournment- Drug rehabilitation upon prison release

My matter, for the Minister for Corrections, relates to the shocking impact of illicit drug use.
Naturally, there is always intense debate (including in this place) around how best to tackle such usage, and people bring a variety of perspectives to that question.
However, we surely all agree that these substances (whether ice, or any of a number of other destructive drugs) are being used in record numbers in Victoria, and are inflicting a staggering degree of carnage on users, their families and communities.
Indeed, for a timely picture of the scale of that use, we need look no further than last week’s release of the latest in the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s excellent annual wastewater series.
While I do so cautiously, I especially want to express my continued despair tonight about drug-related court cases that regularly highlight disconnects between our justice and health systems.  These disconnects are failing all of us in numerous ways, including in a lack of timely resourcing.
In late February, this was again underscored when an offender was bailed in Shepparton, then absconded (and I think is still on the loose) because his rehabilitation bed wasn’t ready.  He was still bailed in these circumstances even despite the opposition of the police prosecutor to the release, including specifically because of his concerns about that very flight risk.
If beds are not available in such circumstances, then isn’t it just common sense that these inmates must remain detained?

Rehabilitation programs are already available in correctional facilities in any case and, surely, should be mandated there as well as during remand.  This would likely not only achieve better accountability for drug-fuelled crimes, but also provide a genuine opportunity for these offenders to detox and increase their chances of resetting their lives on paths that do not again encompass crime or further drug addiction.

I should add that immediate access to rehab (which generally considerably helps prevent recidivism in these cases) is further complicated by the fact that Victoria (and certainly my electorate of Northern Victoria) has a critical shortage of these services.  Given that illicit drugs are so potent to addicts that they remain near-impossible for them to resist without comprehensive treatment, this immediate access is critically important.

Accordingly, the action I seek is that the Minister consider modifying current practice so that, if an offender is bailed to a drug rehabilitation program, they must always continue to be detained until they are able to be released directly to the facility running the program.

Constituency Question- Bushfire infrastructure for Councils

I ask the Treasurer if he could supply, for each year from 2014-15 inclusive, the total dollar amounts collected from the Fire Services Levy from all of the councils in my electorate – and, for those same years, how much (in total dollar amounts) they have received from the State Government specifically to upgrade bushfire-related infrastructure.

Question without Notice- Myrtleford Ambulance response time

My question is to the Minister for Ambulance Services, Ms Mikakos.

It concerns yet another case (this one in Myrtleford, in February) of exceedingly slow ambulance response times in Northern Victoria.

This patient (who had a strangulated hernia) actually needed an ambulance twice, but neither arrived for around an hour.  No CERT team was available either, and all these problems were exacerbated by the apparent failure of the ambulance crews and hospital staff to even communicate with one another about the patient’s condition and requirements.

Minister: what do you and/or Ambulance Victoria currently regard as a reasonable time for a person with a strangulated hernia to have an ambulance arrive and be transported from Myrtleford to a hospital in Wangaratta?

Supplementary question: Minister: the 2019-20 Statement of Priorities agreement that you signed with Ambulance Victoria includes these key goals, quote:

  • “care is always being there when people need it”;
  • “equal access to care”; and
  • “people are connected to the full range of care and support they need”.

Minister: on the basis of the continuing emergence of so many unacceptable incidents in non-metropolitan areas, these priorities are clearly not being realised.

So, especially given the significantly increased pressures confronting the State’s health system because of coronavirus, what actions are you now going to take in order to improve ambulance resourcing and response times that continue to fail critically-ill people in Northern Victoria?

Constituency question- Avenel Road and Hume Fwy intersection

My question to the Minister for Roads, regarding the increasingly dangerous Avenel Road and Hume Fwy intersection.

Adjournment- Sex Offender

My matter is for the Attorney- General, and it is about a serious sex offender, Christopher William Empey. Empey is on the sex offenders register, having spent 12 years in prison for a rape in 2002 so extreme and violent that it included him stomping on the victim’s head and left her so grievously injured that she even had to learn how to walk and write again.

Constituency Question- Shepparton Court holding cells

My question is to the Attorney-General. It is about a serious sex offender’s failure (because of a lack of any available holding cells) to appear in the Shepparton County Court on 31 January for sentencing over his sexual assaults of three girls under the age of 10.

Adjournment- Tendency Evidence: child abuse

My matter is for the Attorney General. It follows a 26th February article in The Australian newspaper, which reported that an agreement has recently been struck between all Federal, State and Territory Attorneys General to allow juries in child abuse trials to hear evidence of an accused’s prior convictions and interest in children. This evidence has previously only been disclosed in exceptional circumstances – which has meant that the histories of most child abuse perpetrators have remained hidden.