Liberal Party bail policy is dangerous and nasty

Just months after Victoria’s bail laws were changed, the Liberal Party have introduced a Bill to reinstate the old bail laws that destroyed families and communities.

Victoria’s bail laws were changed last year after the Coroner found them to be a “complete and unmitigated disaster” during an inquest into the passing of Veronica Nelson – a proud Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman – who was remanded for shoplifting related offences. The changes that were passed by the Victorian Parliament late last year came after decades of advocacy by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and experts – including those with lived experience. The laws are due to take effect later this month.

Punitive bail laws have been a significant cause of the overincarceration of Aboriginal people. Victoria’s bail laws saw the number of Aboriginal people incarcerated in Victoria almost double over the decade leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic. The bail laws saw the total prison population climb significantly and it was common for more than half of the people in Victoria’s prisons to be unsentenced. Aboriginal women were particularly impacted, and there were times where over 80% of Aboriginal women in Victoria’s prisons were unsentenced.

During the parliamentary debates about the bail changes last year, many Liberal and National Members of Parliament went to extreme lengths to avoid saying Veronica Nelson’s name.

This year, the Liberal and National parties announced that they had decided to withdraw from the Treaty process in Victoria – a decision made without consulting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It is disgraceful that the Liberal and National parties in Victoria continue to silence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices. They are making decisions about our lives that put us in danger.

Quotes Attributable to Nerita Waight, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service:

“The policies of the Liberal and National parties will put Aboriginal lives at risk. Their policies will destroy our communities.”

“This nasty politics has failed so many times over the last 25 years, and their obsession with being nasty hurts all Victorians. The fact that they seem scared to even say Veronica Nelson’s name shows that they know exactly how nasty they are being.”

“John Pesutto promised Victorians that he would be different from the failed leaders that preceded him, but ignoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices is more of the same tired politics.”

“VALS has regularly tried to engage with Liberal and National MPs, but Brad Battin is the only member of those parties who has taken the time to meet with us. John Pesutto seems incapable or unwilling to even respond to our letters, and Peter Walsh behaves like he thinks his job is to reinstate the Victorian Aborigines Protection Act rather than help our people build better lives through self-determination.”

“The truth is that the bail changes last year did not go far enough. The next step in bail reform should be to implement Poccum’s Law in full, the bail reforms that Veronica Nelson’s family and experts have been asking for.”


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