Crimes Amendment (Investigation Powers) Bill 2013
Thank you, Acting Speaker; it is always a pleasure when you are the Acting Speaker.
Honourable members interjecting.
Ms GARRETT — It is. The Acting Speaker and I have an understanding. It is good to rise and speak about the Crimes Amendment (Investigation Powers) Bill 2013. Labor is not opposing the bill. As we know, it allows police to collect DNA samples from suspects and offenders in relation to all indictable offences, and it creates a regime to ensure that DNA evidence and individual profiles are properly destroyed. However, it also allows police to have the capacity to retain samples indefinitely for adult offenders who are convicted or those who are acquitted due to mental impairment. There are a range of issues arising from this proposed legislation.
As we do not oppose this bill, it is important to note that we in Victoria have been using new generation DNA technology for several years, and it is important that our laws respect those changes in technology and work with them.
It is absolutely fundamental that police work within a legislative framework that is clear and that they are able to do their work in a way that is beyond reproach. These are emerging areas; there is no question about that. They are emerging technologies, and it is important that this place, which cares so much about how those people who do the front-line work manage their work, ensure that they can do it in a clear way.
When we discuss these issues it is important that we talk about the previous government, which cared a lot about these issues and proposed a range of reforms, particularly around forensic procedures. This is an emerging — —
Mr Watt interjected.
Ms GARRETT — The member for Burwood and I have a great frisson across the chamber.
We did an enormous amount around that, but there is clearly more to be done as these things emerge — —
Mr Watt interjected.
Ms GARRETT — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I cannot possibly accept those interjections across the chamber.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order! The member for Brunswick is seeking my protection. I ask the member for Burwood to desist so the member for Brunswick can deliver her contribution without his unseemly interruptions.
Ms GARRETT — Thank you, Acting Speaker, for once again giving me the protection of the Chair.
I have heard your previous rulings, and they are absolutely fair enough, but we are talking about law and order in this state, and we are responding to those who have spoken before us, who made a range of serious claims.
Mr Watt interjected.
Ms GARRETT — The member for Burwood — or those who he sits with — has spoken at length about a range of law and order measures that this government has introduced, which the government claims are changing the state of this state.
An honourable member — A piece of the puzzle.
Ms GARRETT — This has been a piece of the puzzle. The member for Burwood at the very least said that this is a piece of the puzzle — what this amazing Napthine-Baillieu government has done to achieve law and order in this state. We may well point out that we cannot achieve law and order in this Parliament, judging from today’s efforts. I see that you, Acting Speaker, feel comfortable in that Chair, and someone needs to be after what happened today.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order! I ask the member for Brunswick to stay on the bill.
Ms GARRETT — I am straying, but with cause. We have a bill before the house regarding DNA investigation powers, and this is seen as the centrepiece of the government’s law and order agenda.
- An honourable member interjected.
Ms GARRETT — It is another piece in the puzzle, and the puzzle is very fractured. We should discuss this now. As a mother of three children who has watched them play with puzzles — the puzzle pieces are on the floor in front of us — I know sometimes puzzles go awry.
I see a quizzical look from the member for Prahran. There is a reason we talk about these things. The puzzle is not coming together for the government, and this is for a range of reasons. We have had an enormous number of pronouncements. We have seen a range of front-page stories about how this government, whichever form it may be in, whoever is backing it, whoever is going to support the business
program — —
The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order!
I have offered the member for Brunswick a lot of protection; in return I ask that she makes some comment on the bill.
Ms GARRETT — Absolutely I will make comment on the bill, as the Acting Speaker knows I will. My comment is this: the government can make the changes that it purports to make with this piece of legislation, which we have done before. We were not perfect, there is no doubt about that, but we did not pretend that every time government members rocked into this house with another law and order bill, another piece of legislation from the Attorney-General, who is at the table — and I must say to the Attorney-General that he has been the most prolific member of the government — —
An honourable member — Hardworking.
Ms GARRETT — He has been hardworking.
If only other members produced the number of bills he has produced. When we look at him we say he has actually produced legislation, but the problem is that there is no will behind him to deliver on the resources that need to be delivered to make those bills work. I am straying — —
Mr Watt — On a point of order, Speaker, the member for Brunswick has strayed quite a bit from the bill. There is a ‘Will’ in the chair, but she should get back to the bill.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order! I ask the member for Brunswick to return to the bill. The Attorney-General has welcomed her compliments, but I ask her to return to the bill.
Ms GARRETT — I will return to the bill, because we are talking about DNA samples and the like and we are talking about what happens through that system.
I think I need to touch on the cuts that have occurred in Victoria Police, I need to touch on the cuts that have occurred in our forensic services — —
Mr Watt — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I ask you to draw the member for Brunswick back to actually speaking on the bill.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order! It would be wonderful if the member for Brunswick could in the last 1 minute and 20 seconds return to the bill.
Ms GARRETT — We do not oppose this bill because we would like to ensure that those charged with fighting crime, those charged with ensuring
that — —
Mr Wynne — Have got to be equipped.
Ms GARRETT — Absolutely. That they are equipped to deal with the issues that need to be dealt with. But the bottleneck in our justice system, the slashing of Victoria Legal Aid — —
Mr Wynne — Correct.
Ms GARRETT — Yes.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order! I ask the member for Brunswick to return to the bill.
Ms GARRETT — I applaud the Attorney-General for bringing so many bills before this house; I applaud the Attorney-General for having the strength of character and the work ethic to have delivered those bills. I deplore those behind him who have been unable to back that commitment with the reality of resources
and an agenda that means something to Victorians. I am about to sit down, and you will be so grateful for that, Acting Speaker. We do not oppose this bill, but we will stand firm in insisting that those opposite must deliver a resource agenda behind these pronouncements that they make on a daily basis.