Corrections Legislation Future Amendment Bill 2017

The main provisions certainly have some interesting detail, such as the new offence and penalties for prison contraband. Category 1 contraband includes explosives, firearms, weapons, drugs, child exploitation material and mobile phones and other electronic communications devices. Of course the community would expect those elements would be contraband within the environment of a prison. Category 1 contraband offences are punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment. Category 2 contraband includes unauthorised prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia and electronic storage equipment and recording equipment which is not communication capable, such as photography equipment. A category 2 contraband offence is punishable by a maximum of 12 months imprisonment. Of course those in the prison system would be well‑placed to make the judgement of which contraband is most dangerous in the possession of criminals and what the correct consequences of that should be.

The trial of the paid prisoner employment scheme is an interesting one and one that the opposition will watch very closely. It is envisaged that the number of prisoners participating will be around 20 to 25. These paid prisoner employment schemes were recommended as early as 2005 in the Victorian Ombudsman’s report titled Investigation into the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Prisoners into Victoria.

The Andrews government has been plagued by issues within the corrections system. If you do not know about what has gone on in the corrections system under this government, then you have not been living in Victoria.

Mr Eren — It is the mess that you left behind.

Mr BURGESS — I will pick up the interjection from across the table. The interjection was that it was the mess we left behind, but you have actually gone through four successive corrections ministers because none of them has been capable of taking care of the problems that have been presented by this environment. The minister at the moment is still struggling. In fact I will quote what the minister is reported as having said in an article of 9 February in the Australian Associated Press. She said:

… the government takes a zero‑tolerance approach to attempts to smuggle in contraband and detection methods are regularly reviewed.

Yet the article goes on to say:

Data shows 9.96 per cent of Victorian inmates involved in targeted drugs tests returned positive results over the financial year to date, while 4.74 per cent tested positive in random tests.

Further:

Corrections Victoria data has revealed seven of the state’s jails are failing to meet drug rate benchmarks —

How long have you been in government? Three years. What have you done? You have gone through four corrections ministers and you are still not getting it together. The article continues:

…with as many as one in four inmates testing positive in Loddon Prison at Castlemaine between July and November last year.

It is very clear that the government is completely out of its depth. We are not opposing this piece of legislation, although we do commend the amendments proposed by the member for Box Hill. We are hoping the government will consider those when it comes time to vote on this piece of legislation.

Although the government is on the record as not wanting protective services officers to be put in place in the first place, with the Deputy Premier calling them the plastic police, we have a great deal of faith in them and believe they would be well suited to take on the roles this piece of legislation envisages for them.