Tougher sentences to test Vic parliament
Tougher sentences for drug dealers and pedophiles will be the first test of the deadlocked Victorian parliament when it resumes sitting later this month.
Premier Denis Napthine says the government will continue to pass legislation, having already passed two bills after the suspension of balance-of-power MP Geoff Shaw on Wednesday night.
Dr Napthine challenged Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews to support tougher sentencing reforms when proposed legislation goes before parliament in the June 24 sitting week.
“Does he support tougher sentences for drug traffickers? Does he support tougher sentences for pedophiles, or is he going to be a wrecker?” Dr Napthine told reporters on Thursday.
It is unclear if the opposition will support the proposed legislation. AAP understands Labor will make its intentions clear soon.
Earlier this year a draft of the bill drew concern from Victoria’s top judges, who told Attorney-General Robert Clark it would reduce incentives for accused to plead guilty, significantly affecting court resources.
Mr Clark said it was good legislation and the opposition had a right to scrutinise it, but not to be deliberately obstructionist so bills are defeated.
“Daniel Andrews won’t be able to hide behind Geoff Shaw next week when parliament resumes,” he said.
However, Mr Andrews says the government is basically asking Labor to help it govern.
“Our job is to hold the government to account,” Mr Andrews told reporters.
“We’ll work through every single bill they put before the parliament line by line, doing our job, fulfilling our responsibility.
“There’ll be no blank cheques. There’ll be no free ride.”
Mr Shaw was suspended until September 2 for misusing his taxpayer-funded car, after Labor’s move to have him expelled failed.
The independent MP will also have to apologise and repay more than $6800, with the threat of expulsion if he fails to comply.
The coalition government and Labor are now deadlocked at 43 members each, with Speaker Christine Fyffe holding the casting vote.
Monash University politics expert Nick Economou says there is no reason the government couldn’t pass controversial legislation.
“The Speaker will just vote in favour of it. She is a member of the Liberal party, why wouldn’t she?” he told AAP.
Dr Napthine said the most important thing was that Mr Shaw accepted responsibility.
Ms Fyffe would be involved in ensuring Mr Shaw’s apology meets the standards of the house.
Ms Fyffe says there is historical precedent for a government functioning well without a majority.
“If you go back to history, and the Hamer years, the government didn’t have a majority, I think it was over three years, and parliament functioned very well,” she told reporters.