Thursday, 21 March 2024


Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024

David DAVIS, Katherine COPSEY, Jacinta ERMACORA, Adem SOMYUREK, Trung LUU, Michael GALEA, Ryan BATCHELOR, Sonja TERPSTRA, David LIMBRICK, Georgie CROZIER, Moira DEEMING, Jaclyn SYMES

Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024

Second reading

Debate resumed on motion of Ingrid Stitt:

That the bill be now read a second time.

David DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan) (15:48): I am pleased to rise and make a contribution to the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. I indicate at the start that the opposition will not oppose this bill, but we will seek to move an amendment. I will come to the details of that later. It is a bill that does a number of things. It amends the Private Security Act 2004 to provide a new licensing system for the private security industry in relation to the application for and renewal of a private security licence and in relation to complaints about the conduct of a holder of a private security licence, it provides for offences in relation to subcontracting and a code of conduct for holders of private security licences and requires a risk management plan to be prepared before security activity is carried on, it clarifies provisions in relation to the appointment of special counsel in licence suspension hearings at VCAT where protected information requires management and it amends the County Court Act 1958 and the Sentencing Act 1991 to extend the operation of the Drug Court division of the County Court.

There are a number of points here, and I am going to step through this. In a sense there are two distinct parts to this bill, one dealing with private security and the other dealing with the court. I want to just step through the background to this. The Private Security Bill was introduced to Parliament by Andre Haermeyer as far back as 2004. It replaced the Private Agents Act 1966 and was the first formal recognition in this jurisdiction of the importance of a strongly, clearly regulated private security industry. There was an election commitment of the government to undertake a review of the industry. The review was managed by the Department of Justice and Community Safety and Industrial Relations Victoria over 2020–2021. There was a discussion paper, I am informed, written in consultation with stakeholders, which was subject to public consultation. The final report of the review was published with the government’s endorsement in 2021, and there were 21, I think, recommendations. Only 11 of those are addressed in this particular legislation. The purpose, though, is to amend the Private Security Act to provide for a new licensing system and to extend the operations of the Drug Court division of the County Court.

Private security is an important part of our security system in Victoria. It is important that it is regulated properly and closely. It is the case increasingly that police have struggled to keep up with what is there in our state. I know in my own electorate there have been police stations that have been stripped of all their members and closed – quite a number of them. I could go through the list. Places like Burwood and Ashburton have been all but closed. I could go on, but it is sufficient to say that I think there is a real issue now about the commitment to local policing. I think the state government has lost the plot on a lot of this. Frankly, I think high command in the police service is independent nominally but perhaps rather closer to the government than it ought to be and, in my view, not sufficiently robust in terms of protecting the engagement and the local policing that we should actually see.

We have got more and more of these high-level taskforces, more and more police sitting in large complexes on St Kilda Road or at the other end of the city or in big regional centres and fewer and fewer police in a position where they are engaged locally, where they actually know the local people, the local shopkeepers and the local, dare I say, offenders – because there is often a subclass of offenders who may be recidivists. Local policing often deals with those quite effectively because it has a fair sense of who is likely to be involved in a particular issue and who is not.

That is not what we are seeing now. We are seeing a pullback from local policing, and we are also seeing a shortage of local police around events and a shortage of police around often key times when something is occurring at a community level, and more and more there is a requirement for private security. More and more in apartment complexes there is private security, more and more in shopping centres there is private security, and more and more around events and building security more generally there is private security. By and large they do a very good job. I think that the regulation of them is important, and there are perfectly legitimate points to be made about this particular bill.

We saw perhaps the failure of private security when we look at something like the hotel quarantine scenario in the midst of COVID. The Premier and his individual office staff, including his chief of staff, seem to themselves have personally rounded up the details of how they were going to do hotel quarantine and rounded up the arrangements with the hotels but also the private security groups. It turned out it was the bizarre oversight of some of this that was lacking, and it turned out that the private security groups were a big part of spreading the second wave of COVID in this state. The lack of discipline, the lack of structure and the lack of proper control and proper oversight was a big part of the escape of that virus from hotel quarantine. Through the public health orders, we put people coming into the state and so forth into this hotel quarantine scenario personally devised by the then Premier Daniel Andrews and his chief of staff Lissie Ratcliff, so it was the personal decision of them.

It is very interesting to look at the Coate report and the bizarre time cycles, and I should make the point to this chamber now that we are still engaged in FOIs around that time and the details of that time. We are still seeking the texts and the Slack messages of the then chief of staff to Premier Daniel Andrews and those in his office who were intimately involved in these decisions, who have never been held to account for their policy decisions and ultimately the death and extreme sickness of so many Victorians because they put in place a system of hotel quarantine that was poorly designed. They took this on; they did this.

Frankly, as I read through the details of this and some of the FOIs that I do have about this time and the Coate report, it has a feel of outright corruption. It has the feel that people were getting ticks and crosses depending on who they were and that people were being dragged in to assist with this and collect on the bonanza that was occurring in payments. Some people through hotel quarantine and through some of the matters around the whole COVID period became very wealthy – rich pigs who grew fat on the public purse and the decisions of Daniel Andrews, the corrupt decisions of his office and the corrupt arrangements that were put in place secretively and that still to this day have not been run to ground.

It was extraordinary to watch the Coate inquiry and see that collective outbreak of amnesia – nobody could remember. It is like when something bad has happened at home – a piece of glass has been broken or something – and you ask the kids what has gone on and Mr Nobody is responsible, Mr Nobody has done it all. That is the point here.

Jaclyn Symes: On a point of order, Acting President, I have got no idea how he has connected this to the bill, and even as lead speaker this is very much – first of all, he is being quite unparliamentary, but now he is just being irrelevant.

David Davis: On the point of order, Acting President, I understand the sensitivity of the government to these matters, but this bill is about private security, and one of the most recent examples where private security came to the fore is in hotel quarantine. That is what I am talking about. I am referring to the management of hotel quarantine by private security.

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Jeff Bourman): Thank you, Mr Davis. That is an extremely long bow to draw. Can you just come back to the bill, please.

David DAVIS: Acting President, I will take your guidance of course, but I do make the point that this is a –

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Jeff Bourman): Mr Davis, I have made my ruling. Can we just move on from here, please.

David DAVIS: I am just taking your guidance, Acting President, kindly. But if I can continue to make a point about private security, private security has got to be accountable, it has got to be very clearly oversighted. It has, I think, a very important part to play in our community much more broadly.

This bill, I hope, sets up a satisfactory licensing arrangement here to put in place a system to provide for new licensing in relation to applications for and the renewal of a private security licence and in relation to complaints about the conduct of a holder of a private security licence, to provide for offences in relation to subcontracting, to provide for a code of conduct for the holders and to require risk management plans to be prepared before a security activity is carried on and in relation to the appointment of special counsel under part 7 of the principal act.

I also make the point about one of the interesting things that will occur here. In 2004, with the original act, there were a series of section 85 statements which removed rights under the Constitution Act 1975 with the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Of course section 85 statements are important to note, but this bill seems to restore that basic right to go to the Supreme Court and to follow through with the standard rights to question in the Supreme Court and to enforce the rights by people in the Supreme Court. So I see that as a useful step – an unwinding of perhaps an overzealous protection that was put in through a section 85 statement, making it more difficult for private security groups to collect the fees that were owed to them.

I also think it is important to note in this bill that the steps going forward with the courts are broadly supported here. In relation to the County Court Act 1958 and other acts the bill extends by two years the current three-year trial in operation of the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court in the County Court, making it a five-year pilot. It is a sentencing option for people with various dependencies who have committed associated criminal offences. There are a number of eligibility criteria: they must be able to demonstrate dependency, they must be able to demonstrate a connection between the dependency and the index of offending, they must plead guilty, they must be facing an immediate term of imprisonment not exceeding four years at the time of referral, they must have a usual place of residence that is within the gazetted postcode area and they must consent to the order. There are a number of disqualifying criteria as well, but this, as I say, extends the trial for an additional period. The second-reading speech refers to the extension of the trial, ensuring that the lessons learned in the recent evaluation can be implemented to enhance the operation of the Drug Court. I am not sure, Attorney – have these evaluations been made public?

Jaclyn Symes interjected.

David DAVIS: They have, have they? Yes. At the time when this went through the lower house I think they may not have. The Police Association Victoria has been consulted on this and has said the changes are uncontroversial from their point of view. I pay tribute to the work done by Brad Battin, our shadow in the lower house, and also Michael O’Brien – the court aspects are his responsibility. The two of them have worked very hard on this.

I am told that the changes could be some time away, and the Attorney may take on notice the question of when these changes will actually be implemented if the legislation is passed. Is there a time line on that? Victoria Police and the regulator for private security as well as controlled weapons are working –

Jaclyn Symes: After the regs are made.

David DAVIS: Yes. Is it as far away as 2029? When is this going to happen? I think it would be good to have that on the record.

Jaclyn Symes: 2025.

David DAVIS: 2025. I thank the minister for that, and I am happy to put that on the parliamentary record, thereby saving a question in committee.

During the briefing the department stated that Victoria Police had not yet determined the full scope and cost requirement to make the database fit for purpose – and I am quoting from a briefing that I was not at, so I am quoting it second-hand – yet it is as confident as it can be that it will be achieved by the stated deadline of, as the minister has just said, 2025. She may want to reflect on the likelihood of achieving that. VicPol of course has a mixed record when it comes to dealing with IT and databases and getting them in on time and on budget, and there is something to be said on that.

There is a new fee structure for companies and individuals that is still not known, and one of the questions that might be asked is: will there be an increase in these registration requirements? In line with this government’s approach to taxes on all of these areas, there are usually increased charges. That is what we have seen – 53 new and increased taxes and charges across the period of the government, taking in billions and billions of dollars. Some of them are small changes that scoop in only modest amounts, but this is a classic one where I would be nervous that the charges will be increased. They will say it is all cost recovery, but actually you build a new superstructure, the costs are more and you clobber the industry. These are the costs of regulation, and I pay tribute to the work that VCCI has done on this recently.

The new fee structure for companies and individuals is still not known, and the note I have here is that the fee structure for licences is set out in detail in the Private Security Regulations 2018. The regulations will not need, I am told, to be substantially redrafted or remade, and the minister may want to reiterate that. The task will be complicated because each staff member in the registry deals with not only private security matters but firearm matters, controlled weapons et cetera. It will take time to adequately assess the proportion of their time on average. The cost recovery model, just again, makes me nervous because I know where this Treasurer heads with these – he scoops in more and more, and it is ultimately passed through to the community. The financial implications are unclear in that sense. I understand that cost recovery is not designed to generate a profit, but it may be that practically the costs are greater than they are at the moment and there is another hit in terms of charges and costs.

Now to the regulations: the opposition’s view – and I might add my personal view very strongly – is we would prefer to see more of the detail of decisions in a bill and not in regulations. Increasingly I see the government moving to a model where they set up a head of power and then regulations sit below that, but at the time when things pass through the Parliament, we do not have the regulations or the draft regulations in front of us. Some say this is a more modern approach; frankly, I think this is a more secretive approach. I think it is an approach that leaves less ability for the Parliament and thereby the community to actually have its say and leaves more capacity for things to be done through regulation quietly, secretly around the corner. I declare that I sit on the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee. I see it over there as well at the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee, and I get increasingly nervous that more and more is done through these regulations, which do not have the public exposure and visibility. And even where there is a regulation impact statement required, you know, it is still often done as a very narrow, what I would call ‘in-house’, RIS, where there are a few key stakeholders consulted but the broad community and those who are ultimately impacted are not fully shaken through that process.

We do have an amendment here to deal with the issue of disallowance, and it might be worthwhile circulating that if that is possible.

Amendment circulated pursuant to standing orders.

David DAVIS: I am just going to read it if it comes over. I had better read the actual thing rather than the iterative versions. This is an amendment to be proposed in committee:

1. Clause 53, page 29, after line 20 insert:

‘(7) After section 180(3) of the Principal Act insert:

“(4) Regulations made under this section may be disallowed in whole or in part by either House of the Parliament.”.’.

To explain to people here the sort of strangeness of disallowance and so forth, essentially the Parliament once upon a time legislated in huge detail. Powers are given over through legislation to ministers, and others sometimes, to make decisions and to implement detailed steps under those heads of power. The disallowance provisions, particularly the subordinate legislation approach, would see that each chamber still retains the right to disallow a regulation that is made under those heads of power. That is an important check. It is an important balance. It is a part of keeping governments and bureaucrats honest, as it were – keeping the bastards honest, in the old phrase; I am using a colloquial phrase here. I think that this is an important check and an important balance on these points. This would ensure that there is proper oversight and disallowance is possible, and I would urge people to support that. I think it is legitimate. The opposition would of course have moved this in the lower house, but there is no mechanism to do so in the lower house. The chamber almost never –

Jaclyn Symes interjected.

David DAVIS: It could come out of Michael O’Brien, it could come out of Brad Battin or it could come out of the collective brains trust. So there you are. We all work on these things and it is all good. I think disallowance in this circumstance is important and I think it does improve the legislation, so we will move that. But as I have said on the essence of the bill, we are not seeking to oppose it.

Katherine COPSEY (Southern Metropolitan) (16:12): I rise to make a contribution on the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. I will make a brief contribution today. The Greens will be supporting this bill. I just want to speak particularly in regard to the provisions of the bill dealing with the County Court. The bill addresses the trial of the County Court Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court. The Greens have long advocated for therapeutic and health-lead approaches to dealing with the many issues that arise and are often seen in our justice system. In fact the operation of specialist drug courts is nothing new in Victoria. Victoria’s first Drug Court opened in Dandenong in 2002 before establishing at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in 2017, and then it was extended to Shepparton and Ballarat.

According to key stakeholders, such as Victoria Legal Aid, the trial of the dedicated drug courts has demonstrated progress that was previously seen in both the Melbourne and the Dandenong experience. They said:

The impacts are clear – therapeutic responses are changing people’s lives.

Rather than cycling people into and out of prison, where the person does not get the treatment they need and offending rates do not change, the court is able to provide a drug and alcohol treatment order, which is an intensive but proven program and an alternative sentencing model that works with clients to encourage behaviour change and address underlying issues that may be contributing to offending. The overall benefits of this sort of process for all of us include reduced reoffending rates, reduced substance use and less costs from keeping people in prison. It is by no means, though, an easy option. The mandatory criteria for a drug and alcohol treatment order include (1) a guilty plea to all charges, (2) a link to drug or alcohol dependence, (3) that the possible prison sentence is not greater than two years and (4) that the person consents to such an order. It can include frequent drug testing, weekly court appearances and mandatory counselling.

The reason that this bill extends the trial for two years is that the evaluation, as we understand it, is not yet complete. We look forward to reading that report. If the results are similar to those in other courts, the Greens will look forward to supporting a bill that makes the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court at the County Court permanent.

I am speaking briefly today. In conclusion, with regard to the private security provisions of the bill, I do note the comprehensive review of the private security industry that the department completed in 2021, including a public consultation through the Engage Victoria website. As I said in my opening remarks, the Greens will be supporting this bill. That concludes my contribution today.

Jacinta ERMACORA (Western Victoria) (16:15): I speak this afternoon on the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. This bill has come about following an extensive review of the private security industry in Victoria. The amendments in this bill come from recommendations of that review.

With this bill, the amendments will do several things. Firstly, the bill simplifies the licensing system so that essentially only a licence is required. Private security workers and businesses will no longer have to concern themselves with whether they need registration or a licence. The bill simplifies the application process. It adds a requirement, though, for all private security workers to complete refresher training. We do definitely want all of our security workers to be up to date with all of the latest best practice principles and also how to respond to emerging security issues.

The bill makes several important additions relating to Victoria Police. It allows for any person with concerns about a private security licence holder to make a complaint to Victoria Police. The bill also addresses what is known as sham contracting. This is an act where a prospective employee is pushed into obtaining an ABN by a private security entity. The employee that was pushed into obtaining an ABN is then faced with an employer who no longer has an obligation to pay award wages, take out WorkCover insurance or provide leave or superannuation. This form of sham contracting leaves an employee in a vulnerable position, including in insecure work and often lacking all of the legitimate conditions other employees enjoy. The amendment makes it very difficult for employers to engage in this form of contracting. As part of the new requirement, security employers will be required to obtain consent and provide written notice in relation to subcontracting. A risk management plan will need to be prepared by an individual or business prior to private security workers commencing work.

This bill also provides for the creation of a code of conduct for private security workers. If you think about the lack of a risk management plan and the sham contracting scenario, you can end up with someone with very little training who is not aware of the circumstance they are entering into and perhaps does not even know the key risks for the particular job at hand. This certainly has led to a number of unfortunate events.

The bill makes consequential amendments to the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 and the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018 to repeal or delete references to private security registrations. As well as the important amendments I have previously mentioned, the bill also seeks to amend the County Court Act 1958. These amendments relate to the Drug Court division. The amendments will allow the County Court to adjourn a proceeding to the Drug Court division at any time before 26 April 2026. It amends the Sentencing Act 1991 to enable Magistrates’ Courts to transfer criminal proceedings for offenders who are subject to drug and alcohol treatment orders made by the Drug Court division of the County Court back to the Drug Court division. There are also some technical amendments related to sequencing of sections to ensure that they are chronological.

As you can no doubt tell, this bill makes significant changes for our private security industry. This is of extreme importance. We must acknowledge that private security workers operate in a high-risk environment. They can be faced with significant risk. This means that we must ensure that our private security workers are properly trained and appropriately vetted so that they can meet these challenges. That is why the refresher training is required.

One of the scenarios that I wish to talk about here that backs up the amendments in this bill is that private security workers make a positive experience when entering and exiting a venue, for example. It is extremely important that the community can trust and respect our private security workers, and this goes for women particularly. I remember years ago when I was younger and going out and socialising just how vulnerable I felt when security guards nearby would leer at women. It really did not instil confidence in women or any understanding –

Jaclyn Symes interjected.

Jacinta ERMACORA: It was creepy – exactly. I must say now, today, things have already changed quite a lot. You often get a warm greeting as you enter a supermarket or a department store from a security officer. I really want to express my appreciation for the 99 per cent of security officers who do an absolutely lovely job and make everybody feel welcome and confident by acknowledging them as they arrive.

For far too long the act of sham contracting has gone on within the security sector, and this has left private security workers vulnerable and left some employers unaccountable for the things that have been happening, and so for this reason I really want to endorse this bill. I want to support the changes. It increases the accountability level of security workers, it increases the support provided to security workers by virtue of their annual refreshers, and I think in that regard it will increase the confidence that the community has in the security industry. I commend the bill.

Adem SOMYUREK (Northern Metropolitan) (16:22): I rise to make a brief contribution on the bill before us today, which is the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. This bill has been a long time coming. The then Premier in 2018, the erstwhile Premier Mr Daniel Andrews, made a commitment at the 2018 election campaign – I recall it vividly; I do not think he said to fix it – I think his words were ‘to do a comprehensive review of the private security guard industry’. The reason he did that was because the rapidly expanding private security guard sector had become a real mess by that point. It had a notorious reputation for being bad, and that is why the Premier made that commitment. As the minister referred to in his second-reading speech, the worst of the security guard sector was on full display during COVID. COVID was sort of a microcosm of how bad the private security sector was. I do welcome this bill. I think it has been a long time coming, but it is a bill that urgently needs to pass this house and be implemented by the sector.

The trigger for the Private Security Act 2004 in the first place was the unfortunate death of cricketing icon David Hookes. I think it was in 2004 when he was coward punched by a private security guard outside a pub. It could have been in South Melbourne or St Kilda – I cannot remember the details. There was community outrage. In particular there was outrage from people of my vintage, who grew up watching David Hookes play cricket. He was a very entertaining cricketer, an aggressive left-handed batsman. He scored five boundaries in one over off Tony Greig, as I recall, in the 1970s. He would set the MCG alight or whichever venue he played in, with 80,000 people shouting out, ‘Hookesy! Hookesy!’ He was a great cricketer. So it was particularly sad for people like me that watched David Hookes play cricket when we were growing up. The 2004 act, triggered by the unfortunate death of David Hookes, initially introduced the professionalisation of the private security guard industry and ensured proper training and vetting of security workers. It did not attempt to stop – because it would be very difficult to stop – but it attempted to reduce the criminal infiltration that it had become clear the industry was being beset by at that particular point in time.

The new bill before us goes further, and it should, because as I said the sector has grown and so too has the poor performance of the sector. The bill aims to address issues that have arisen over the past two decades, such as the exploitation of workers, the need for continuous professional development and the regulation of subcontracting practices. Speakers before me have spoken about sham subcontracting. Subcontracting is a really big issue in this industry, but this industry is not unique. Sham subcontracting transcends many industries in the economy. You have companies that, in order to avoid being detected doing nefarious practices, subcontract out and then claim they are not responsible. In particular governments who are purchasing goods and services need to be aware of this, and they need to take steps to ensure that there is transparency in the supply chain and that companies are held to account for their supply chain. That is what this bill does. I do support the bill, and I will be supporting the bill.

In terms of the amendment put forward by the Liberal Party, I am not sure that the government does not intend to do this anyway. It is about a disallowance motion that is pretty regulation, and I think what they are proposing pretty much makes it crystal clear. Because of that I will support the opposition’s amendment.

Trung LUU (Western Metropolitan) (16:27): I rise today to speak on the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. As mentioned in the chamber today, the Private Security Bill as first introduced in this place was designed to replace the Private Agents Act 1966 and formally recognise the need for a strongly regulated security industry.

The Private Security Bill was introduced, as mentioned earlier by Mr Somyurek, to this Parliament by the then Minister for Police subsequent to the passing of David Hookes, the test cricketer, in 2004 following a dispute outside a hotel. I think most people here know what occurred: he was struck on the head and passed away. However, a lot has changed since the death of David Hookes, a much-loved cricketer, a batsman during my time I should say. Now we need to address some of the lingering issues with the legislation which has been in effect for the last 20 years, especially with the new technologies among us. We need to update the legislation to make sure it remains current and effective.

I want to bring us back to the COVID-19 lockdowns in recent years, when those who unfortunately had to be in Melbourne experienced confinement in hotel quarantine and the issues we had then with the hiring of security guards, contractors and the like through apps without any regulations or conditions for how persons should act in the role of security guard. This bill will address that subcontracting practice, which some might say contributed to the 800 lives that were lost during the quarantine period. Actions like those need to cease immediately, and this new bill definitely eliminates those issues. From now on, if this bill passes, there will be a requirement for written consent in relation to a subcontracting agreement, and there will be an offence relating to it as well.

Furthermore, this bill will provide for some positive changes to the Private Security Act 2004 by providing a single licensing system for all private security workers and businesses. It is changing some requirements. It will not require registration; all activities will now require a licence under this bill. This is a very good and positive change, providing a consistent approach. It will also give some confidence to our community. The licence will have a time period – it will expire in three years. At that stage the applicant would need to apply for renewal of their licence. It will keep their qualifications constant and up to date. This consistent approach, it was found, would abolish the need for registrations. More than that, it will also allow any person with concerns about a holder of a private licence to make a complaint to Victoria Police. They can ring the police to have their licensing units look after this sort of thing – less of the complaints with this. With the registrations of licences, the police can then follow up in relation to any complaint about a security guard acting inappropriately or any issues down the track.

This also enables the industry to produce a new code of conduct, which will be developed in due course, enforcing disciplinary action in relation to ensuring that the private security industry is governed and has good oversight. Security guards subject to high risks, such as bodyguards and crowd control – we know the difference between those at shopping centres and those who provide private security. They require different skills, and different training is required for those roles. This bill will enable them to do refresher courses to ensure that a high standard is maintained in the industry.

The Victorian private security industry faces a significant challenge. It needs a comprehensive overhaul to safeguard the public and improve conditions. The bill also addresses the pay issues and underpaid workers in the security industry, and those who are inadequately trained will have the opportunity to do various courses to upskill themselves. However, we cannot expect private security to do all the police work. The only way to keep the community safe – as we have spoken so much about today in this chamber regarding community safety – is police numbers. Police still do their duties. The police duties are still as important as ever, and the number of police required to do the policing role in this state needs to improve for them to still continue to do what they need to do.

Business and communities are now scrambling to hire security guards to do various duties in relation to crime, especially out in my region. There are estates where residents now hire private security to do normal patrol beats around their estates. That should not really happen in our community these days. Unfortunately, they are the facts at the moment. We need to encourage the government in many ways to boost the number of police doing their duty to ensure the community is safe. In those areas where people feel so unsafe that they have had to hire private security to patrol around their estates – that really should not happen in Victoria.

I mentioned that to give you an example of an estate, Jubilee estate in Wyndham Vale. It is 11 kilometres away from the nearest police station. The residents have come and spoken to me about this. They have employed private security to keep them safe. That sort of thing should not happen. Eleven kilometres from a police station – really? Do we need private security guards to monitor around this estate? But it is the appearance. When people feel unsafe, that is the action they have to seek. If the appearance is that they feel unsafe, that is the duty of the police force to ensure people do feel safe. To do that we need to equip them with the sufficient resources, equip them with sufficient manpower, to do their job. Unfortunately with this current government the number is at our lowest point, so I hope that will change. In the meantime we should not have a two-tier system where one group of Victorians feel inadequate compared to the other side of town regarding the service of emergency services.

Moving forward in relation to this bill, I know my colleague Mr Davis will move the amendment in relation to clause 53 to insert after section 180(3) of the principal act:

Regulations made under this section may be disallowed in whole or in part by either House of the Parliament.

I am sure this bill eventually will address that, but this will ensure that it will be addressed.

In addition, the bill includes amendments to the County Court Act 1958 and the Sentencing Act 1991 extending by two years the operation in the Drug Court division of the County Court of the current three-year trial that applies to the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court. In a short period of time it is quite an extensive program. I will not have enough time to speak on it, but I would like to speak in relation to the important role that drug diversion has. Drug and alcohol treatment orders are the way to go if you want people not to reoffend. We have got to assist them in as many ways as possible, and this will stop offenders reoffending. It is too late to encourage them not to use drugs at the start, but if they fall into that trap we have got to find every way possible to assist them when they are in need to stop going back down that track. It is a very vital section of the bill to reduce the risk of future violent drug-related offences and associated addiction. This comes at a time when Victoria has been dubbed the national heroin capital in recent times. I know it is said that New South Wales is I believe the cocaine capital, and we, Melbourne, have been dubbed the national heroin capital. So programs like the drug and alcohol treatment order are essential to assist those who fall in that trap and to hopefully get rid of this title we have been given as the national heroin capital.

In conclusion, I would just like to say that I will be supporting this bill, and I hope those who are in this chamber do support the amendment raised by Mr Davis in relation to ensuring everything is being addressed and covered in relation to disallowance of those regulations in whole or in part.

Michael GALEA (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (16:39): I rise to share a few words on the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024, which I rise in support of today. This is an important, progressive bill that will make two significant improvements. Firstly, in the aspect of private security this is a bill that fundamentally will tidy up a number of regulations and the framework in which our private security system operates in this state by making it more stringent and more robust in particular on the companies that provide these services and the training that is required to be associated with it and on the individuals themselves who work in this space. I note that it comes as amendments to the Private Security Act 2004, which was introduced by then Minister for Police and Emergency Services in the Bracks government Andre Haermeyer, and it was quite a progressive, important reform at the time. That reform improved much in the industry, but much has changed in the further 20 years that we have had since. The industry has grown and diversified, and the social and technological developments that have occurred do require increasingly complex skill sets amongst those who work in the industry.

This bill is in large part aimed at those employers who do not pay fair wages and do not afford their workers genuine flexibility and access to their legal entitlements such as superannuation, leave and insurance, and it is targeted also to address that, again, relative minority of training organisations that do not deliver the required training and who sign off on untrained and wholly unprepared workers. This is going to benefit the industry because by bringing in more robust regulations in this space we are actually removing the ability of some of those providers to undercut the genuine providers who are doing things properly, so this is very important for that reason alone. It also comes on the back of the recommendations of the government’s review of the private security industry, which was conducted by the Department of Justice and Community Safety and released in December of 2021.

Another aspect of this bill is the extension of the pilot of the Drug Court as part of the County Court. On the Drug Courts we actually had some discussion already in this chamber earlier today in question time, and I note the Attorney’s passion for this subject. Certainly the results of the scheme speak for themselves, with a recent KPMG report into the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court showing 31 per cent of those that went through it were less likely to reoffend within 12 months of completing their Drug Court order compared to those who went through the regular system. They were also 34 per cent less likely to reoffend within two years. Frankly that is a remarkable result and absolutely makes the case for this very reasonable extension of the County Court trial.

The County Court is one of our strong legal institutions in this state and a very progressive court indeed, especially with initiatives such as the Drug Court as well as other therapeutic options. It is a progressive court with a historic name in fact. We are the only jurisdiction in Australia I believe to have a court named the County Court. Other places refer to them I believe as district courts, and it harks back to the county system of Victoria, which though largely now defunct still does technically exist, fundamentally through the name of this court and also through land titles. We are here in the Parliament today in the county of Bourke, as it was then and as it still technically is. But today the County Court serves all of Victoria, and this Drug Court as part of it has been also very similarly successful to the trial in the Magistrates’ Court Drug Court in Melbourne. To see this extended is going to be of great benefit, and I am looking forward to seeing more positive results flow through that.

I do also want to make a few brief comments about the amendment which has been put forward today by those across the chamber. I do confess, whilst I do not have a problem with the intent of it, I do note that it does strike to be a little bit of overreach. We already have quite sufficient processes in place for dealing with the sort of stuff that this amendment is seeking by seeking to have any of the regulations disallowed by a vote of the Parliament by either house. That is actually already something that applies to regulations. They are perhaps confusing the regulations in this with administrative orders, which ordinarily a clause like this would apply to. When you have a regulation that is well within the purview of either house, either or both houses can currently discuss, debate and override any regulations, as in fact can the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee. SARC actually has a responsibility amongst its many responsibilities to review regulations as they come through and make precisely those recommendations based on that. So for those reasons I will not be supporting today’s amendment, but I do commend this bill to the house.

Maybe this is just the Liberal Party seeking to throw something in to keep our Thursday afternoon spicy. Who knows, maybe there are even some meetings they might be trying to avoid this afternoon. Goodness knows if they can find their dear glorious leader – perhaps he has run away again from more people in a lift. I am not sure of his movements. I know we spoke about a motion yesterday that apparently was not run past him when it was put through. Either way, at least they have kept themselves busy with this. They are perhaps, for once, not even running the numbers like they normally do tend to. Certainly you would not get the sense that they are running the numbers effectively, at least from reading the amendments that they have put into this place today and with this particular amendment that they have proposed.

I think it is worth reiterating that what this bill will do is actually introduce a very sensible, very straightforward, very pragmatic set of changes. It should not be a controversial thing; it should be supported by those across the house. In talking about the Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee of the Parliament – and I know my colleague Ms Terpstra, you are on that committee as well and I look forward to your contribution on this – my understanding is that there is a process which is currently already set out in part 5 of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994, better known as the SLA, which was introduced in 2010 at the same time as the requirement for regulatory impact statements. The purpose was to allow for greater scrutiny of all the legislative instruments, such as the regulations which the coalition today have come in saying we need greater scrutiny of, in complete ignorance of the fact that these provisions are already in place as part of that SLA. So the process requires all new regulations to be laid before each house of Parliament and to be considered by SARC, which as members I am sure will know, is a joint committee which enjoys strong representation from across the Parliament.

SARC, as part of its role, must assess the suitability of the regulations and report that back to Parliament. Certainly it does seem to be an interesting process. If there is a specific concern about these regulations that is raised by SARC, they can indeed recommend that some or all of the regulations be disallowed or amended, and this recommendation indeed has to be laid bare before Parliament, during which time the regulations in fact are suspended. So further, if SARC is of the opinion that in the interests of justice and fairness the regulations should be suspended in whole or in part pending the consideration of the Parliament, it may in fact even propose that the regulations be suspended outright altogether. Both or one house of the Parliament may disallow the regulations in whole or in part.

The things that this amendment is seeking to achieve are actually perfectly covered by those processes. I believe Mr Davis himself is also a member of SARC, so I would expect him to know that. Well, it is actually him putting the amendment forward, so perhaps he does not. Perhaps they are spending more time dealing with working out who the 10 people are that actually still supposedly support John Pesutto’s leadership. Some might look over them one day and say, ‘I can’t believe it’s even 10.’ But that is what we are told according to the papers, and for now, at least for the time being, I understand he does remain the Leader of the Opposition. If he will stop running away from people throughout the precinct, I am sure we will get to a point where he might even be able to put forward a vision for this state – but we are still of course yet to see that, and I suspect we will be for some time to come. We know that they cannot do their costings right either, as we saw from last time, and of course from our friend Mr Davis. We will see if they have any more contributions to make, which hopefully will be of greater value to this place. I will not be supporting the amendments today, but as I say, for the reasons I outlined, this is a good, progressive bill that should be supported. I commend it to the house.

Ryan BATCHELOR (Southern Metropolitan) (16:50): I am very pleased to rise to speak on the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024, which makes a range of really important changes, particularly to private security arrangements in Victoria. It is a workforce which does provide an important function, keeping many elements of the operation and administration of buildings and gatherings and the like done in a professional manner. It is an industry that by its very nature does have to try and keep some sort of order over occasional unruly members of the public, and therefore in doing so it is one that should be properly regulated. When even minor public order functions are being performed in the state by members of the private sector, it is important that they be done by people with adequate and proper training, because keeping the community safe is something that is obviously very important.

We have a licensing scheme for the private security industry here in Victoria, but one of the important things that this legislation seeks to do is to try and prevent some of the more problematic workplace-related practices that have become in some parts of the industry all too prevalent. One of the key and I think most important features of the bill seeks to introduce additional safeguards against sham and dodgy subcontracting of these industries. We know that there are and have been instances, particularly through the work that the United Workers Union has done over many years to uncover problematic practices in the industry, where contractors and subcontractors in the private security industry have engaged in processes that have led to worker exploitation, that have led to wage theft and that have led to the sorts of exploitative workplace practices that we do not think should exist and certainly the law thinks should not exist. Particularly in relation to things like wage theft, this Labor government was a leader in the country in criminalising it in recent years. But what we have seen, unfortunately, is that in sections of the private security industry there have been a range of sham subcontracting and dodgy workplace practices put into place. That came to light, as I said, through the efforts of the United Workers Union in drawing public attention to some of the practices of the industry.

It was an issue that this Labor government took seriously. Prior to the 2018 election the Labor government committed to doing a review of the private security industry, which after we were re-elected in 2018, like all of our commitments, we delivered on. That review was undertaken in the years following the 2018 election. It was released at the end of 2021. It is yet a further example of the diligent and systematic approach that the Labor government has taken to responding to instances where bad workplace practices, whether they be through direct employment or through sub and sham contracting arrangements, have led to the exploitation of workers in Victoria. The approach that this Labor government has taken is to try and stamp out these exploitative practices where we see them and to put in place laws and regulatory regimes to make sure they do not happen again. Victoria is not a state where this Labor government wants to see workers being exploited, particularly in industries like security where because of the nature of the industry we see that workers have been particularly vulnerable to exploitative workplace practices.

Through a range of steps that the government has taken over many years we have sought to strengthen the protections for people in the industry. What this legislation before us today will do – by ensuring that subcontracting arrangements cannot be used as a way of getting around regulations with respect to private security contracting – is strengthen those regulations. We have seen it, for example, in the way that the government introduced its portable long service leave arrangements that cover the security industry, an industry where people move between contractors at a range of places and often did not get access to things like long service leave in the way that those with more stable employment relationships did. We put in place measures to protect them, and this is another example of where the Labor government is putting measures in place to ensure that workers who are vulnerable to exploitation in a range of employment and contracting settings are not in fact exploited. We are doing what we can as a government to ensure that those workers are not exploited and not at risk. To me that is what is at the heart of the significant benefits that this legislation will bring, particularly to working people here in this state.

The bill requires that any person who is listed by a security contractor as an independent contractor must also hold a private security business licence, which will bring them within the purview of that regulatory regime. It will create an important barrier to employers forcing those employees – or workers, I should say – to engage in unfair arrangements. We believe, based on the work that was done by that independent review, this will protect the workers, increase transparency and ensure that providers and contractors are held accountable for their actions.

The legislation will also introduce a new code of conduct, which will be enforceable by disciplinary action. This will benefit the community but also those who work in the industry by providing clear and consistent professional standards and, we hope, improving public perceptions of those who work in the security industry. The code will be developed by the Chief Commissioner of Police in consultation with industry stakeholders. It will ensure that workers in the industry are treated with respect and dignity, that diversity is respected and that there is a commitment to the appropriate use of escalation techniques during interventions, which we know do occur. That is why security officers, private security contractors, are used, because we know there are a range of settings where that kind of support for events and facilities is required, and ensuring the appropriate use of escalation in those interventions will be at the core of this new code of conduct.

Another important element of improving practices in the private security industry that this bill will implement is a requirement for frontline workers to take refresher training prior to licence renewal. Every three years licence renewal is required for those operating business security licences, and this will require skills to be refreshed. Things like first aid, safe physical restraint practices and verbal de-escalation tactics are critical for those working in higher risk roles such as crowd control and static guarding. This recommendation – to require refresher training – was a recommendation from a coroner in 2022 following an unfortunate case where physical restraint of a patron led to their death. We need to make sure that individuals who find themselves in an encounter with private security can expect that those private security officers have appropriate training and that that training is appropriately refreshed. I think these reforms are going to provide a better skilled and more professional security workforce. They are going to give the workers in that industry, importantly, access to continuing education and the ability, by the skills refresher, to make sure that their skills are up to date. It is not just a case of train once and forget, it is an approach in the industry where they will be able to get more and refreshed skills.

There are a range of other amendments in this legislation. It will extend the pilot of the County Court Drug Court. Previous speakers in the course of this debate have talked at length about the important work that this has done. The bill amends the County Court Act 1958 and the Sentencing Act 1991 to extend the operation of the Drug Court division within the County Court of Victoria for a further two years. The Drug Court model seeks to address the underlying causes of offending by providing intensive drug treatment services to offenders. It is an acknowledgement that the best way to reduce reoffending, particularly in these circumstances, is through health-directed, health-oriented approaches. The evaluation evidence demonstrates quite clearly that these approaches work. It is important to keep doing things that work well. That is what this bill seeks to do.

The legislation before us today is making some critical and important changes to extend the operation of the Drug Courts, and as I have said in the majority of my speech, to improve the private security industry in this state – important reforms that have been championed by the work done by members of the union movement. I commend the bill to the house.

Sonja TERPSTRA (North-Eastern Metropolitan) (17:02): I also rise to make a contribution on the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. It is important to note that this bill is a product of the 2018 pre-election commitment to review and overhaul the private security industry. The bill will implement a number of key recommendations of the report and address issues that have been plaguing the security industry for years. The bill also amends the County Court Act 1958 and the Sentencing Act 1991. The purpose of these amendments is to extend the existing County Court Drug Court trial for two years to allow a full evaluation of the trial.

I will start my contribution on the security industry. Again I will reflect on my many years as a trade union official. One of the things that I was very involved in and interested in was looking at subcontracting arrangements and sham contracting arrangements. Unfortunately some of the industries that those practices are rife in are the security industry and also the cleaning industry. Going back a number of years there was a range of quite large high-profile employers who were I guess singled out or called out and investigated in fact by the Fair Work Ombudsman for a range of practices that included employing people on what would typically be known as sham contracting arrangements when really these people should have been direct employees – things like forcing someone who should have been directly employed to have an ABN, which meant they were basically working for themselves. What that in effect also meant was that the employer used those arrangements to avoid their award obligations – things like not paying them the minimum award rate, not paying superannuation and avoiding other obligations.

There were a range of test cases. I think one, most notably, was through the High Court. I think it was Hollis v. Vabu. That High Court case looked at: what is a subcontractor? This was a case in regard to bicycle couriers, if my memory serves me correctly. That is because bicycle couriers were engaged as independent contractors when in fact they should not have been. They should have been looked at as employees. There was a range of tests that the court came up with to determine what is an employee and what is not.

Getting back to the security industry, what we know about the security industry is that people who work in the security industry actually perform a critically important function for all of us. There are a range of events and circumstances in which we need security to be available. Some of those things are rock concerts and festivals and the like. Security might sometimes be involved just to check bags at festivals or whatever. There are some larger companies that offer these services, and they can be involved in patrolling at night, whether it is building sites or buildings in the CBD and the like or other places where we need people to patrol to ensure that buildings and suchlike are not broken into. They do perform an important function, but we also note that there was a range of other concerning practices that evolved.

I note that the United Workers Union is the union that has members in this area, and this is something that they have advocated long and tirelessly for. It is a credit to their advocacy that we now see these reforms coming before the Parliament to be implemented and made law. One of the things that will assist workers who are employed as security guards or employed in the security industry is that they will now also be provided with a fact sheet that will include a list of organisations that can help workers ensure that they are being paid fairly. They need to understand what their rights are. It will also include information about who their relevant union is, which is the United Workers Union, and about the Labour Hire Authority and the workplace ombudsman. The Labour Hire Authority is, again, another critically important entity that was stood up by this government to make sure that in the labour hire sector – and, again, often you will find labour hire agencies that will stand up and employ people on a labour hire basis – a labour hire entity has to be licensed, and the Labour Hire Authority is the responsible authority for providing licences.

Importantly, security workers will also need to ensure that any person who is listed as an independent contractor, for example, must hold a private security business licence. That is important to ensure that these people are licensed and there is a degree of rigour around that as well. Not just anyone can be a security person. They have got to have licences. They have to have undertaken appropriate training and the like. These reforms are aimed at cracking down on some of the largest issues that are impacting the industry – things like unclear and unauthorised subcontracting and the illegal exploitation of workers through sham contracting. Again, it is great to see these reforms come through and be before the Parliament.

I am going to quickly shift to talk about the reforms to the County Court Act, which are about the Drug Court. It is really pleasing to see the trial being extended. It is a really critical function that the Drug Court has, looking at how we can assist people who come before the court, because as we know, for people who might be struggling with a drug dependency issue, sometimes putting them in jail is not the answer but helping them to understand and perhaps participate in diversionary processes and practices can be, and this is something that the Drug Court has a pivotal role in. Effectively addressing the underlying causes of someone’s addiction is akin to a therapeutic approach. It enhances the wellbeing and community connectedness of participants and improves their relationships, housing stability and life skills, reducing reoffending. These amendments will help to preserve the benefits that have been derived from the Drug Court’s operation for as many eligible people as possible. The 2014 evaluation of the Drug Court is available on the Magistrates’ Court website, but of course these amendments will help and in effect extend the trial so we can look at further data that comes out of that trial.

I might leave my contribution there. I did see that there was an amendment proposed for one of the acts, but I note that government will not be supporting that amendment. I commend this bill to the house unamended.

David LIMBRICK (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (17:09): I also rise to speak on the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. This is one of those annoying bills that does something that I really do not like and something that I really do like.

A member: Annoying?

David LIMBRICK: Yes, so I have to sort of find a balance. I will say from the outset I am not opposing this bill, but let us start with the bad news – the things that I do not like. I do not believe that these extra regulations for what the government calls ‘sham subcontracting’ and these sorts of things are going to actually improve anything. The government presents this ‘sham contracting’ as if the alternative was someone being employed by a company and getting better conditions and that sort of thing when the reality of the alternative in many of these cases is unemployment. I think that this will raise costs. I think that it will send many business models to be uneconomic and will result in job losses, so I do not like that. But what I do like is the extension of the Drug Court as part of the County Court. I think that what the Drug Court is doing is wonderful work. Diverting people with problems with drugs away from the criminal justice system and into other things that may be more productive and more useful than going to prison is a very good thing.

I am forced to make a decision on this bill. On balance I will not oppose it, and I hope that the Drug Court becomes a permanent fixture and not just a trial.

Georgie CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) (17:10): I also rise to speak to the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024, and in doing so I acknowledge the contribution by my colleague Mr Davis on this. As has been stated, this bill is to provide for a new licensing system for the private security industry and to amend the County Court Act 1958 and the Sentencing Act 1991 to extend the operation of the Drug Court division of the County Court and for other purposes.

As has been said, the Private Security Act 2004 has been looked at, and it needs to be overhauled. This bill will provide a new licensing system for the private security industry and do a range of other things, but also – as Mr Limbrick has just spoken about – in relation to extending the operation of the Drug Court division in the County Court, it will provide for that as well. In that regard the current three-year trial will be extended for the operation of the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court of the County Court, making it a five-year pilot.

I just want to go to the point very quickly. Obviously private security undertake a very important role in the safety of the community, and we know that. They are often seen undertaking a range of roles around ensuring that the public is safe, particularly around crowded places, sporting events, music festivals, music events – all of those sorts of things – but they also provide security for critical infrastructure and they are often in our hospitals, for instance, providing support to the staff in hospitals to ensure their safe running and the safety of not only patients but also, importantly, staff. They also are seen around shopping centres and around the courts and various other things. They provide a whole range of services.

But the one thing I want to mention, as it cannot go without mentioning, is the role they played during COVID with hotel quarantine. As we know, that was a complete and utter debacle, and it led to some significant issues in this state where our state was locked down for the longest of anywhere in the world. Certainly we had the harshest of restrictions and the worst outcomes in relation to that.

The Coate inquiry looked at this very issue – admittedly it was all a bit of a farce, the Coate inquiry – of the procurement and role of private security, and it did talk about the failings in the procurement process. Obviously there was a real problem with the role of the security guards in what they were trying to undertake, and there were systemic governmental failings that led to these problems, as the Coate inquiry found. It says in the report that:

The process by which the security guards were selected was not appropriate or sufficiently rigorous. It was made in haste and without any risk assessment, led by staff that did not have the requisite experience and knowledge … and without any public health oversight or input.

It concluded that:

… there were failures of proper procurement practice on the part of DJPR.

That was a bit of a cop-out, because there were decisions made by the government at the time, and they got away with their decision-making process and of course the impacts on the rest of the Victorian community. The legacy of that period is a very dark one, and I think that hotel quarantine was instrumental in leading to so many issues here in Victoria. But anyway, getting back to this bill, I just needed to make that point because of the importance of what is required when you are dealing with security firms, private security, licensing arrangements and the fit and proper person test – all those issues that need to be undertaken to ensure that the licensing arrangements are properly adhered to and that we do have legislation or regulation around an ability for these operations to conduct what they need to do properly.

As I have said, Mr Davis has outlined the vast majority of the opposition’s issues in relation to this bill. I think there is some concern around the delay in these changes, which could be up to two years away. There will be new fee structures for companies and individuals, and that is still not known. Obviously we will tease that out in the committee stage, and those arguments have been prosecuted throughout the debate. I will leave my contribution there.

Moira DEEMING (Western Metropolitan) (17:16): I would like to rise to speak in favour of the Private Security and County Court Amendment Bill 2024. I rise to speak in favour of this bill for a variety of reasons, many of which have already been gone over. I will not be going over ground that has already been trod, but I would just like to agree with many of the things my colleague Mr Limbrick has said.

It is important to have a great system for licensing and regulation when it comes to security providers, because obviously we have had some spectacular stuff-ups in this state, hotel quarantine being the most obvious. But there are so many more examples and so many more reasons why private security is so important in Victoria. For example, here in Victoria we know that women cannot assemble peacefully on the steps of Parliament to speak about women’s rights and child safeguarding. They are going to need to hire far more than two security guards to do that, because as we all learned about a year ago, and I am sure we are going to see again tomorrow, they will need to supplement a gravely outnumbered police force – a police force totally disempowered by the Labor government’s decision to abolish the move-on laws that would have allowed the police to charge, detain or move on all the very badly behaved men, those counter-protesters, that day. Instead, on 18 March last year all police could do was watch as trans rights activists in masks, National Socialists in masks and National Socialist Nazis in masks intimidated those women with threats of rape and murder and with Nazi salutes. But I digress.

There are so many other reasons why private security is important, and here I do just want to give a huge shout-out to the amazing security services that we have here at Parliament. They do a fantastic job, and they do not ever let party politics get in the way of their duties. It is not just important for things like violence and surveillance. For example, it is very important to protect the sanctity of certain spaces and places like multifaith prayer rooms, such as the ones they have at federal Parliament. The business of managing the environment of multifaith prayer rooms is part of our responsibility to a society that values equality. I am sure that among our MPs and staff in this Parliament, if we did have a multifaith prayer room in this state parliamentary precinct – which currently we do not, and which I have raised as an issue – that not only our security services but all of us here as a group of representatives together would ensure that nobody would ever treat faith-based spaces with such vile contempt as to do something so heinous as to procure sex workers and have orgies in that space. I am sure that we would never put up with anything like that, so that is why I am supporting this bill, and I commend it to the house.

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (17:19): I sincerely thank everyone for their contributions on the legislation that we are about to, by the look of it, pass. There were a couple of matters that Mr Davis raised that I just hope to address for a speedy committee passage. One was in relation to his concerns about timing of the bill and any delay. I confirmed for him verbally across the chamber that the commencement of the changes is 2025. I am advised that that will be April, so we are talking just over 12 months in relation to that system being enacted. That is to enable enough time for the regulation impact statement (RIS), for consultation and for the making of the regulations. Particularly on that note, I would just put to the house that we will not be supporting Mr Davis’s amendment, in short because we do not believe that it is necessary. That is because there are existing and well-established processes for Parliament to consider and where appropriate disallow regulations, including that a provision in statute of the kind being proposed has historically only been done for legislative instruments that are subject to less scrutiny than regulations – for example, administrative orders.

I think everyone is familiar with the current process, but I might just outline it in terms of part 5 of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994, which was introduced in 2010, at the same time the requirement for RISs came in. The purpose is to allow for greater scrutiny of all legislative instruments such as regulations. The process requires all new regulations to be laid before each house of Parliament and to be considered by Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee, which has good representation across the Parliament. SARC also must assess the suitability of the regulations and report to Parliament. If there is a specific concern about the regulations, SARC can recommend some or all of the regulations be disallowed or amended, and this recommendation has to be laid before Parliament, during which time the regulations are suspended. Further, if SARC are of the opinion that in the interests of justice and fairness the regulations should be suspended in whole or in part pending consideration by the Parliament, then they may propose that also the regulations be suspended and either house of Parliament may disallow regulations wholly or in part.

Further, in relation to these regulations and I guess linking back to the commencement date and the main amendments of concern about the setting of licence fees, this will involve an exposure draft and a RIS for public consultation – noting of course that MPs can be involved in commenting in that process, so there will be full transparency about the scrutiny of the proposed fees and the basis for them. The RIS has to be approved by the independent commissioner for better regulation and must be settled to the satisfaction of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, who will not issue a section 13 certificate to enable regulations to be made unless they are within power and suitable as to the form and content. We are of the view that these combined provide an appropriate check and balance and would counter the purpose of Mr Davis’s amendment.

Again jumping to fees and some concerns in relation to those amounts: as, Mr Davis, you did indicate, this is designed to be a cost recovery and certainly no more. In relation to the training costs and who pays, the refresher training will be developed after the passage of the legislation and before commencement. Fees will be kept to the minimum necessary to provide adequate training. We would hope in many cases employers will pay for the refresher training, but the responsibility, we would expect, will fall on many workers, and the course content, delivery method and fees will be designed with that in mind. We know that private security work is generally not the highest paid profession and workers will be footing the bill in many cases, so we will be very conscious of keeping those fees low.

I will end on a fun fact: I was a security guard in the early 2000s. I conducted my training and got my licence.

A member: Don’t mess with the AG.

Jaclyn SYMES: That’s right, I built up quite a few skills whilst I was a security guard for a couple of years.

This is good reform, and I would also take the opportunity to thank the minister’s office for allowing me to bring in the County Court Drug Court extension provisions in the legislation as a vessel to ensure that that important work can continue.

Motion agreed to.

Read second time.



Clauses 1 to 52 agreed to.

Clause 53 (17:26)

David DAVIS: I move:

1. Clause 53, page 29, after line 20 insert:

‘(7) After section 180(3) of the Principal Act insert:

“(4) Regulations made under this section may be disallowed in whole or in part by either House of the Parliament.”.’.

My amendment here is to insert a clause that will make it crystal clear – strongly clear – that regulations made in this section can be disallowed in whole or in part in either house of Parliament. I thank the Attorney-General for her commentary before and the useful elucidation of the disallowance powers.

Jaclyn Symes: You have used that word a couple of times today.

David DAVIS: Yes, I have got it going, haven’t I? Anyway, I thank her for that. I will direct people who want to understand the disallowance matters and the regulatory framework and the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994 to read her contribution. With respect, though, we believe that it is not so clear in this case, and that is why we are moving the amendment. We believe this does make it absolutely crystal clear that the disallowance powers can be exercised, and this clause will strengthen the position. We think that changes of this type need more legislative scrutiny, not less, so that is our rationale.

Jaclyn SYMES: I have already addressed it.

Council divided on amendment:

Ayes (15): Melina Bath, Gaelle Broad, Georgie Crozier, David Davis, Moira Deeming, Renee Heath, Ann-Marie Hermans, David Limbrick, Wendy Lovell, Trung Luu, Joe McCracken, Nick McGowan, Evan Mulholland, Adem Somyurek, Richard Welch

Noes (21): Ryan Batchelor, John Berger, Lizzie Blandthorn, Katherine Copsey, Enver Erdogan, Jacinta Ermacora, David Ettershank, Michael Galea, Shaun Leane, Sarah Mansfield, Tom McIntosh, Rachel Payne, Aiv Puglielli, Georgie Purcell, Samantha Ratnam, Harriet Shing, Ingrid Stitt, Jaclyn Symes, Lee Tarlamis, Sonja Terpstra, Sheena Watt

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to; clauses 54 to 65 agreed to.

Reported to house without amendment.

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (17:35): I move:

That the report be now adopted.

Motion agreed to.

Report adopted.

Third reading

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (17:35): I move:

That the bill be now read a third time.

Motion agreed to.

Read third time.

The PRESIDENT: Pursuant to standing order 14.28, the bill will be returned to the Assembly with a message informing them that the Council have agreed to the bill without amendment.