Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin.
Minister for Housing & Assistant Treasurer.
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Adjournment – Community safety

The Commonwealth government has a number of obvious roles that we are responsible for. But as a local member one issue that is constantly raised with me and is at the forefront of my mind at all times is community safety. It is often said that there is no greater obligation on government than to maintain the good law and order for our citizens to allow them to go about their daily lives in safety and in security. This year, I have spent a lot of time since coming back from a great summer break speaking to my electorate, and time and time again the issue of personal safety arises, particularly personal safety for women going about their business. We have seen in Victoria some absolutely disgusting examples of recidivist criminals, who are—and in no surprise to the community—people who have a track record that is an abomination. Time and time again, they are released back onto our streets to cause mayhem, harm and, ultimately, tragedy to the lives of decent families.

As the member for Deakin, one of the areas that I have constantly spoken about and championed—I have spoken to our state government on, written to our state government on, cajoled our state government on and fought our state government on—is to absolutely review and reform our sentencing guidelines of, in fact, the entire judicial system as it relates to crimes against women and children, and, indeed, any serious crimes. Time and time again, I have people speak to me about changing the way that they go about their lives to accommodate for those feelings of a lack of safety. So that may be a woman who gets the earlier train home because she does not want to walk from the station to home in the dark. As a society, we should never accept or allow for people to have to change the way they go about their lives in order to accommodate people who are allowed on the street—and I will not name them because many of these cases are before the courts at the moment—who have committed crime after crime and who have not been sentenced correctly.

One of the things that I have asked of the Victorian state Attorney-General is to undertake a detailed review into changing our sentencing laws from concurrent to cumulative sentencing. In short, if you are convicted of three crimes at the moment and you are imprisoned then you are in prison for the single crime that has the highest penalty. We should have cumulative crimes where, if you are found guilty of three crimes, each sentence that applies to those three crimes cumulatively adds to your time in jail. In many of the cases that I have looked at, if those criminals had been behind bars for the true amount of time that they should have been, they would not have been on the street and the tragic circumstances of rape, death and mayhem would not have been there.

Broader than that, though, of course, is our obligation to the safety to not just individual citizens but our entire nation. I am very, very proud that last year, through the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Bill and the Proceeds of Crime Act, we have been very keen as a government to look at what levers the federal government can pull in order to ensure that we have the strictest possible regime for criminal offences in this country.

Of course, due to our constitutional arrangements the states take primary responsibility for our justice system, so the Commonwealth government is limited in the extent to which it can impact on these changes. I am comfortable—in fact, I am very proud—that this government has done absolutely everything within our purview and within our power to make sure that our criminal laws are as strict as they possibly can be. I am calling on the Victorian state government—indeed, I am calling on every single state government in this country—to say that enough is enough. Enough is enough of us seeing these outrageous criminals who are not sentenced correctly continually undertaking these crimes. We need to reform our— (Time expired)

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