Victoria: Law & Order


March 27, 2017

While the majority of matters relevant to this motion are state-based issues, I am very pleased to speak on this motion because it is important that we correct the record when such wildly inaccurate criticisms and claims are made in this place. It is supremely hypocritical for this coalition government to be crowing about the importance of national security and law and order whilst simultaneously defunding—gutting!—our federal policing and national security programs. This motion by the member for Dunkley is nothing more than a politically motivated attack on the Victorian Labor government and a grubby scare tactic designed to unsettle Victorians. It might be because of his rookie status, but probably he has been encouraged by his more experienced colleagues that sit next to him. This motion makes reference to Premier Daniel Andrews’s election platform in which he stated that: ‘More young people are turning to a life of crime. Crime has increased every year. Courts and prison systems are under huge pressure.’ And it is on this basis that the Andrews government took action to address this challenge upon their election in 2014. You should take note of this because these are the facts. In just over two years, the Victorian government, under Labor, has invested an additional $2.8 billion in policing and crime prevention and an additional 4,210 police personnel have been funded. This is in contrast to the four years of the Liberal-National government when zero sworn police officers were funded—zero!

Here are some more facts for you: the Andrews government has also invested in a dedicated 24-hour police assistance line for nonemergency calls and a reporting website so that Victorians can contact police when and where they need to; an automatic number-plate recognition technology for 220 highway patrol vehicles to crack down on dangerous drivers; modernising and expanding the Victorian Police Air Wing with three new helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft; building a new training facility for Victorian Police Special Operations Group, bomb squad and Critical Incident Response Team; and $10 billion worth of youth crime prevention grants. The government has also expanded certain powers to allow the police to do their jobs and fight crime more effectively. The Andrews government has passed laws giving police the power to take DNA samples from the people suspected of committing an indictable offence without a court order and increased the number of DNA samples analysed by the police from 7,000 to 70,000 during their period of government.

They have also passed new laws targeting drive-by shootings. The hypocrisy of the member for Dunkley in putting up a motion like this flies in the face of the facts that I have just articulated and focuses on a state government, who are putting law and order at the forefront of their agenda. By contrast, the Turnbull government talk a big game about law and order but have quietly—it is not really quiet any more, because we have exposed it—ripped away funding from the Australian Federal Police and will wind up some of their most important programs.

Last month at Senate estimates—maybe the member for Dunkley might want to have a look at those transcripts—it was revealed that the Turnbull government has cut $100 million from the AFP’s federal policing and national security programs over the forward estimates—$100 million from the AFP. That is your government; that is what you have done.

According to the AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin, this $100 million cut will need to be made up by the AFP pulling back on their programs to tackle organised crime, illicit drugs and fraud—that is as a result of your actions. These programs include the AFP-led National Anti-Gangs Squad, which targets bikies and organised crime. We hear all about that from some of those opposite when we are in the chamber, and this program has already been cut by $6.3 million this year alone.

The government’s $100 million cut will also result in the end of the AFP’s targeting illicit gun crimes measure. Given the government’s recent rhetoric on illegal firearms and the massive increase in firearm theft recently, this is quite extraordinary. It is actually breathtaking that you put this motion up.

Federal Labor has proposed tough new measures to allow courts to lock the worst firearm traffickers up for life but, instead of joining us to crack down on illegal gun trafficking, what has this government done? They have just focused on cheap tricks and mandatory minimum measures which the experts all agree do not work.

Commissioner Colvin also confirmed last month that the AFP has not even been able to factor in an expected pay rise for cops into its budget, and in fact we have even heard reports that our brave men and women on the frontline of federal policing are facing pay cuts of up to $35,000 because of the actions taken by this coalition government.

I would suggest to the member for Dunkley and the Turnbull government—it might be a rooky area by putting this motion up; I hope it is—that, instead of focusing on the Andrews government, which is actually doing things and making a commitment to law and order, and working hard to tackle crime and deliver a safer community for Victorians, it should support the AFP and focus on the many things it could be doing to tackle crime at a federal level.