Help improve our criminal justice system

July 7, 2021

The criminal justice system inquiry now underway in Victoria is the broadest in 30 years.

The inquiry has come about after horrific murders in Wangaratta in 2015 and 2016. A rapist on parole committed one of these crimes. The other was committed by a previously convicted violent offender who had just been released from prison for breaching parole.

These awful events spurred a community campaign called ENOUGHISENOUGH that led to my election as a parliamentarian. They’re also the reason why the inquiry’s first hearing opened in Wangaratta on June 30, this year.

The Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee – of which I’m a member with six other MPs – is conducting the inquiry.

The committee is chaired by Fiona Patten who, in this video with me and deputy chair Tien Kieu, talks about the inquiry’s terms of reference. These include:

  • Factors influencing Victoria’s growing remand and prison populations
  • Ways to reduce rates of repeat offending – known as recidivism
  • How to ensure judges and magistrates have appropriate knowledge and expertise when sentencing and dealing with offenders, including an understanding of recidivism and the causes of crime; and
  • Appointment processes for judges in other jurisdictions, especially reviewing skill-sets required for judges and magistrates overseeing specialist courts.

The inquiry provides a clear opportunity for people throughout the state and especially in rural and regional communities to influence change. Voices that have long been lost in what can be daunting, complex system can now be heard. The committee wants to hear them. It also wants to host more hearings in regional communities.

So I really encourage people who’ve had both difficult and positive experiences in the criminal justice system to make a submission. This video sets out how the inquiry works, what it’s examining, and how you can participate.

Find out how to make a submission. Or if you need advice about the process you can call the committee staff on 03 8682 2869. My statement about the inquiry also provides more details.

Please have your say.

Speech- Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Bill 2020

As I said in my inaugural speech nearly two years ago, the one thing above all that drove me into politics was the need for better parliamentary representation of victims of crime.  This was on the basis, especially, of my experience with the #ENOUGHISENOUGH campaign, which I co-founded in 2015 after two particularly horrifying cases in Wangaratta of sexual assault and murder.

Notice of Motion- Early Intervention for family welfare

Tania Maxwell MP, Member for Northern Victoria, hopes the upcoming State Budget will include substantial funding for early intervention in child and family welfare.

Statement- Regional Victoria’s coronavirus road map

Our regional economy is further decimated each day that these lockdowns continue. Jobs are lost, businesses will collapse, mental health problems escalate, schoolchildren face setbacks, family violence incidents increase, and people lose more hope.

I call on the Government to urgently reconsider the alternatives that can manage the health risks and provide some economic flexibility and an immediate reopening for businesses in areas where there are no active cases.  Otherwise, we risk this road map being a road to ruin.

Members Statement- Cross border restrictions

Restrictions across the borders into New South Wales and South Australia continue to impact the lives of tens of thousands of people across Northern Victoria.

Over the last eight weeks, we’ve seen instances where changes to permits were imposed without 24 hours notice, valid permits were cancelled overnight and health clinicians, students, teachers, farmers, businesses and the general public were left flummoxed and uncertain about their eligibility.

Speech- Extension to State of Emergency

There are many things to say about this Bill. I’ll start simply by pointing out that it will undoubtedly be one of the most important pieces of legislation on which we will be required to vote during this term of Parliament.  Both practically and symbolically.
I make that observation because this is a debate that relates not just to a serious public health problem – but also to the very essence of how government should be allowed to function and operate in a democracy.
More to the point, it’s a debate that requires us to address questions about the extent to which it is appropriate for governments and public officials to seek to impose their own will over the rights, freedoms and liberties of citizens.

Notice of motion- Failure to attend court

I give notice that, on the next day of meeting, I will move that this House recognises that many Victorians fail to appear when due to attend court; and I note that despite the fact that some of these people who fail to attend are already in custody in prison or on remand, they are still not successfully transported to court. I call on the Government to strengthen its policies and procedures so it is difficult for offenders to refuse to attend court.

Notice of motion- Victims of crime

I give notice that, on the next day of meeting, I will move that this House recognises that people who become a victim of crime due to the murder of a loved family member or friend and that this house endorses the improved support to victim support services such that they may provide ongoing support to victims.

Murray Basin Rail Project- Letter to Deputy Prime Minister

On 12 August I wrote a joint letter with my colleague Stuart Grimley MP to the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Michael McCormack MP. We asked the Federal Government to advise when the response to the revised business case on the Murray Basin Rail Project will be announced and to confirm their continued support for the full completion of this project.

The Murray Basin Rail Project is extremely important to Northern and Western Victoria and has the capacity to deliver economic growth and boost productivity. We continue to be concerned with a lack of transparency around the revision of the business case, and share stakeholders’ fears that the project will be watered down or continue to be put on the back burner.

Statement- Sitting of Legislative Council in Victorian Parliament during COVID Stage 4 restrictions