June 12, 2014  |  Second Reading


I rise to speak on the Crime Statistics Bill 2014. In doing so I say that it is sad to see that members of the government are not speaking on this bill, because it is a very important bill about which each and every single member of this house should be concerned. They should also be concerned about the crime statistics in their electorates.

Mr Watt interjected.

Ms KAIROUZ — The member for Burwood is talking about members not speaking. I heard his contribution earlier, and it was quite interesting because he omitted to talk about crime statistics in his electorate. Referring to crime statistics in the member for Burwood’s seat, particularly in the Victoria Police — —

Honourable members interjecting.

Mr Wynne — On a point of order, Acting Speaker, I am very interested in hearing the contribution of my colleague, and the interruptions from members opposite are most unparliamentary. I ask you to draw those members back to listening to the contribution of my colleague.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order! I thank the member for Richmond. I am sure we will all listen quietly and respectfully to the member for Kororoit.

Ms KAIROUZ — The Acting Speaker and the member for Burwood would be quite interested in staff numbers at the Boroondara police station in the Boroondara region. In November 2010 there were 127.1 staff members at that station. As of 31 January 2014 there were 103.32 staff members, a decrease of 23.78.

An honourable member interjected.

Ms KAIROUZ — That is right; it is equivalent to almost 20 per cent. Let us look at the offences that were recorded. In 2009-10 there were 6246 offences recorded. The difference to date is 995, which is an increase to 6688 offences. An increase of 995 is over 17 per cent.

Mr Watt interjected.

Ms KAIROUZ — The member for Burwood is interjecting.

I was quite interested to hear his contribution, in which he did not touch on any of these important statistics.

The opposition does not oppose the bill; however, my colleagues have raised a few issues about the bill and repeated our grave concerns about this government’s handling of the police portfolio in general. The Ombudsman’s report Crime Statistics and Police Numbers recommends that we consider establishing an independent unit to develop and maintain statistical databases on crime, to monitor and publish reports on crime trends and with the capacity to audit crime statistics and crime recording practices.

The government committed to establishing an independent crime statistics agency in 2011, which is great. Finally, after four years and four budgets it has allocated $8.4 million to establish this agency. I question why the government decided to do this now.

It is clear that the reason it has done it is that we are going into an election. It did not do this beforehand, because we are going into an election.

Crime statistics are very important to each member of Parliament because they can inform them and tell them about what is going on in their electorates.

It is a very important tool for policing, and particularly for intelligence-led policing. It is a very important tool for a certain level of police performance, for resourcing decisions and for crime prevention policies and programs.

Basically, this bill will provide for the employment of a chief statistician. I would like to congratulate Fiona Dowsley, who has been appointed chief statistician of the Crime Statistics Agency. We on this side of the house certainly welcome her appointment. The bill also provides for the Chief Commissioner of Police to provide law enforcement data to the chief statistician — —

Mr Watt interjected.

The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Sykes) — Order! The member for Burwood will listen to the member’s presentation without interrupting.

Ms KAIROUZ — The bill provides for the publication of crime statistics, it creates an offence of unauthorised disclosure of information and it also provides for the commissioner for law enforcement data security to collect crime data held by the Crime Statistics Agency.

This government’s centrepiece policy is around law and order, but all we have seen under the government is an increase in crime rates.

Under Labor we saw an increase in police numbers, and each and every year crime rates were brought down. Under this government crime rates have gone up, and gone up significantly, and police numbers have gone down. I refer members to recent crime statistics in my electorate of Kororoit. Let us look at the north-western region in total. These are not good figures; in fact they are terrible figures. Let us look at the city of Brimbank. In November 2010 there were 172.16 police staff members in Brimbank. Under this government that number has gone down to 164.89 — a decrease of 7.27 or over 4 per cent. Looking at crime rates, 14 567 offences were recorded at Brimbank in 2009-10; in 2012-13 there were 18 864. That is an increase of 15.38 per cent. These figures clearly demonstrate that there has been an increase in crime, and in particular an increase in crime in my electorate.

This is out of control, but what can we expect when this government has been so busy dealing with its own issues? It has been plagued by one crisis after another and has been too busy sorting out its own mess rather than looking at the mess it has created out in the electorates through its cutbacks.

Mr Donnellan — Criminal cutbacks.

Ms KAIROUZ — They are indeed criminal. There has been one cutback after another. The government has slashed police funding to $113 million and it has cut 500 staff. This government has been too dysfunctional to even think about making our community safer. It has been too busy dealing with one crisis after another, whether it be in education, in the TAFE system or in health. Unfortunately the community has had to bear the brunt of all this.

We have seen overcrowded prisons and an increase in the workload of front-line police, an increase in family violence and an increase in drug offences. Unfortunately our front-line officers have been too busy doing work behind the scenes, and they have not been able to go out and deal with issues — —

Mr Donnellan — Community policing.

Ms KAIROUZ — That is right — they have been too busy dealing with issues behind the scenes to do community policing. They have not been able to get out there promptly and help make members of our communities feel safe. This is a very sad state of affairs. The members of this Liberal-Nationals coalition should stand up and take responsibility for all the problems they have created since taking office.

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