Attorney-General must ensure bail reform is meaningful and doesn't 'tinker around the edges': Greens


The Victorian Greens have welcomed reports that the Victorian Labor Government intends to move on bail reform in the coming months, but warn any changes must be meaningful and not just tinker around the edges.

Last month, the Greens reintroduced their own ‘bail bill’ to Parliament. 

This bill would abolish the ‘reverse onus’ tests that impose a presumption against bail, and replace it with a simplified process in which the prosecution would need to establish an accused person was an unacceptable risk to the community in order to deny bail.

At the time, the Greens said if the Victorian Labor Government didn’t introduce a bail reform bill in the next three months, the party would bring their private member’s bill to a vote.

Victorian Greens’ justice spokesperson, Katherine Copsey, said she was glad to see this pressure had helped push the Government to act, and that she looked forward to seeing the proposed reforms the Government put on the table.

She added that the Government shouldn’t waste another minute, given it had previously ignored the many warnings from the First Nations community, lawyers, and the Greens.

Earlier this year the coronial inquiry into the death of Veronica Nelson handed down its damning findings.

The coroner found that Victoria’s current bail laws were having a discriminatory impact on First Nations people, describing the Victorian Labor Government’s changes to the Bail Act in 2018 as ‘a complete and unmitigated disaster’. 

The coroner recommended urgent reform of the Bail Act, in particular the provisions that have adverse effects on First Nations people.

Discrimination placing unsentenced First Nations people and women in prisons has been a direct result of the bail laws put into place by the Victorian Labor Government, and continues today.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens justice spokesperson, Katherine Copsey MLC:

“If you haven’t been convicted of a crime, you generally shouldn’t be in jail.

“Yet Victoria’s bail laws continue to disproportionately imprison First Nations people and women, most who have not yet been sentenced.

“It’s good to see the Government finally moving on this, and listening to First Nations communities, lawyers, human rights experts, and the Greens.

“But it’s critical that any proposed reforms put to us in Parliament are meaningful, and don’t just tinker around the edges.

“The Greens already have a bill ready to go – we just need the political will.”