Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Corrections system

Matthew BACH, Enver ERDOGAN

Corrections system

Matthew BACH (North-Eastern Metropolitan) (12:15): (35) My question is again for the Minister for Corrections. Minister, this time, in June 2022 the Legal and Social Issues Committee of this place tabled a comprehensive report into Victoria’s criminal justice system. You were a member of that committee. The response was due in September last year and as of today has, again, not been tabled. Since becoming the Minister for Corrections, have you ordered that the government’s response to the report be published, and if not, Minister, why not?

Enver ERDOGAN (Northern Metropolitan – Minister for Corrections, Minister for Youth Justice, Minister for Victim Support) (12:15): I thank the member for their question and their interest in this matter. I will say from the outset that I was a participating member of that committee, and I do recall that it touched upon many different portfolio responsibilities, some of which I am responsible for, but it was across the whole criminal justice system. Mr Bach should know that. But in terms of our government’s record in the corrections role or in youth justice, I would like to say that our government is committed to keeping Victorians safe, and I have said many times we are committed to assisting people to break the cycle of violence. Obviously holding offenders to account whilst supporting them to find better pathways for their rehabilitation reduces their risk of reoffending, and that is good for all Victorians. We are investing in people and the infrastructure in our state to keep the corrections system going.

Matthew Bach: On a point of order, President, these are highly meritorious motherhood statements. However, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the question that was asked. Respectfully, I would ask that the minister should come back and actually answer the question.

The PRESIDENT: The minister still has 2 minutes for his answer.

Enver ERDOGAN: Thank you, President. As I stated to Dr Bach’s substantive, the findings of the report touch upon a number of portfolios, so if he was more specific about which elements of that report he wants me to respond to, that would assist. Nonetheless, in terms of the criminal justice system, as a new minister, we are always reviewing and making improvements to our system, but we are investing as well in new facilities and in the people that work in our system. We have a new state-of-the-art Western Plains facility. The physical construction has just been completed.

Nicholas McGowan: On a point of order, President, the member is now clearly debating the question. I ask you to direct him to answer the question that was asked.

The PRESIDENT: I call the minister back to the question.

Enver ERDOGAN: I have stated, if the member was listening to my answer, that that report is a comprehensive report. Members in this chamber who were on that committee will understand that the issues that it cuts across are not just my portfolio responsibilities. It cuts across a number of different portfolios. Mr Bach should know that, so maybe he should ask a question that relates to my portfolio instead of just asking a broad question. He has directed it to me, but that report is not just about my portfolio responsibilities.

As I said, our government has invested in our corrections system. We have invested in the infrastructure and facilities. We have invested in the staff. I am pleased to report that the number of people in custody has actually reduced by 17 per cent since March 2020.

Nicholas McGowan: On a point of order, President, the answer is not relevant. I would ask you to direct the member to answer the question.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr McGowan. I have listened closely to Mr Erdogan, and all he has spoken about since your last point of order is this report.

Enver ERDOGAN: Some of the issues that were raised in that report talked about, I guess, government supervision of offenders that are released from our criminal justice system. Our government has invested over $200 million for community corrections reform to improve supervision of offenders on programs and strengthen rehabilitation through targeted specialist programs since 2016 and 2017.

Matthew BACH (North-Eastern Metropolitan) (12:19): Thank you, Minister. Will you commit to ensuring that the government’s response to the inquiry is tabled prior to any proposed changes being introduced to the Parliament?

Enver ERDOGAN (Northern Metropolitan – Minister for Corrections, Minister for Youth Justice, Minister for Victim Support) (12:19): I thank the member for their supplementary question and interest in this matter. In terms of the recommendations made to the government, they will be analysed and reviewed in accordance with the standard way with a lot of these reports that come from house committees. In that regard I do not have an announcement about a specific date by which a response will be tabled, but there will be a response. In relation to our work in the corrections space, I have stated that for some of the elements that came out through that inquiry our government is already addressing them. We have invested in the supervision of offenders and in rehabilitation programs. A number of our successive budgets have done so.