My matter is for the Attorney-General. It follows the Government’s alterations to bail reporting conditions as a result of COVID-19, through the series of changes that were legislated in Parliament in the Omnibus Bill on 23 April. More specifically, it has also been prompted by a disturbing incident in late May in which a child pornography offender living in Greenvale was arrested, while on bail, for allegedly again possessing further child abuse material. He has been charged with a string of further child abuse offences.
I might add there was also another very worrying incident last week in which a violent prisoner at the Fulham Correctional Centre near Sale was somehow released from the prison, in error (and even though he had actually already been refused bail). That’s an issue that I may take up in more detail in a separate contribution here in the near future.
We learnt from the PAEC hearings two weeks ago, through the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Graham Ashton, that there had been a lifting or easing of the previous bail conditions of 3,083 people to that time. What we still haven’t necessarily heard about that, though, are the practical consequences of many of these changes.
As I expressed both in my speech and during committee questioning on the COVID-19 Omnibus Bill (and as a number of people have also said to me privately), I don’t think it is unreasonable to be concerned about whether some people on bail may have sought to take advantage of the revised arrangements in the weeks since then. Beyond just the Greenvale case, that is. If they have, then it is also obviously very important to understand the degree to which this has happened.
The action I therefore seek from the Attorney-General is that she provide figures that show what percentage of people on bail have breached their conditions in any way:
(a) during the entire period since 25 March when the Government’s Stage 2 COVID-19 restrictions began; and
(b) during only the period since bail reporting conditions were eased as a result of the passing of the COVID-19 Omnibus Bill in the parliamentary sitting of 23 April.
As a means of helping to better set those numbers in context, I would appreciate, as part of that, if she could also provide the numbers of people who had been breaching their bail conditions during each of the preceding months of the 2019-20 financial year.