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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 870

Senator HINCH (Victoria) (19:40): It is always good when you can take a line from Shakespeare and adapt it for home consumption. So: something is rotten in the state of Victoria—really rotten: street crime, gang crime, home invasions, carjackings, prison riots and a court system that lets a man out on bail, despite strenuous police opposition, resulting in carnage in the Bourke Street Mall. Melbourne, my Melbourne, is barely recognisable as a place that keeps getting voted 'the most liveable city in the world'. It is hard to see us winning next year. The state opposition leader, Matthew Guy, said the other day: 'Every day we're seeing riots, we're seeing crime waves'. And he said of the Andrews administration: 'This is a government who is standing by and allowing Melbourne to become the Johannesburg of the South Pacific.' That should be 'which is standing by' but I agree with the sentiment.

Not only Melbourne, but throughout Victoria, crime is rampant. It is out of control. In Caroline Springs on Saturday night, dozens of Sudanese youths—and I will identify them as Sudanese even though it is politically incorrect to do so—terrorised and terrified families at a community fireworks night, running through the crowd snatching mobile phones and handbags, punching anyone who resisted. Once the fireworks started and people started using their mobile phones to take pictures, the gang struck. One eyewitness said it was like the running of the bulls. Another witness said, 'They had no fear, no respect for authority'. Obviously not. One teenager was bashed and had his phone stolen right outside the Caroline Springs police station.

I said they have no respect for authority. Why would they? They are treated with kid gloves. Reportedly, troublemakers get ice-cream and pizzas in juvenile detention as rewards for behaving themselves. Why would they, when a department spokesman referring to the latest prison riot, yet another one, actually referred to rioting prisoners as 'clients'? They are criminals, prisoners. They are not clients. Although, the way the current government treats them, you can understand if they see themselves as clients or customers.

On 3AW last week Neil Mitchell found a bombshell of a line in the small print in an ombudsman's report. It turns out that, after rioting juveniles ransacked their Malmsbury and Parkville detention centres and were sent to country prisons, the government decided that it would be the decent thing to have their parents visit them and that it would be fair and decent for you the taxpayer to pay for it. They forked out for taxis and Uber rides for the folks to get there from Melbourne—I guess at around $200 to $300 a time. I do not know, although I would bet on it, that the taxpayers even paid for their motel or hotel expenses.

Ignore the fact that the only reasons these young crims were in the country jails was because they destroyed their city abode. A cynic would say it is a surprise that they are even in jail because they usually get bailed so easily—some of them eight or nine times. Thugs repeatedly are given chance after chance out on bail and go on to commit further offences. The justice system and magistrates continue to put the offender first and the victim and community protection last.

I have talked to a lot of police. They all say the current court system of granting bail to an accused is utterly frustrating and at times dangerous to the community. Police keep trying to remand the accused person until they hit the court system. But more often than not they are released on court bail, despite concerns by the police: exhibit A—Adrian Bayley, rapist and killer of Jill Meagher; exhibit B—Jimmy Gargasoulas, Bourke Street Mall; exhibit C—Sean Price, killer of Masa Vukotic. Exhibit D is still to come. It could be any day soon.

Melbourne is currently going through an extraordinary wave of carjackings and violent home invasions which are apparently not happening anywhere else in Australia. One of the problems I think is the VicPol policy to not tell it like it is, to be politically correct. It takes me back to the days when Christine Nixon was Police Commissioner. There were African gangs terrorising Kensington. I remember saying on 3AW that 'Mrs Doubtfire' had instructed police not to call them 'African gangs'—or even 'gangs'. Jesus wept. How much have they learnt since? Mollycoddling does not work. Ignoring reality does not work. The way things are going in Victoria, my state's next number plate slogan should not be 'Victoria: The Garden State' or 'Victoria: The Place To Be'; it should be 'Victoria: The Crime State'.