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Major reforms to overhaul bail system pass Parliament

bail reform

Melbourne: The Andrews Labor Government’s legislation to toughen Victoria’s bail system and give a higher priority to community safety passed Parliament this week.

The Bail Amendment (Stage One) Bill 2017 was introduced last month as part of Victoria’s largest ever suite of legislative measures to crack down on crime and keep the community safe, an official press release said.

The reforms will implement key recommendations made by Paul Coghlan QC following the Bourke Street tragedy on 20 January 2017. Under our reforms, it will be harder than ever for serious and violent offenders to get bail.

The legislation amends the Bail Act 1977 so that decision makers, including magistrates and judges, will be required to place a higher priority on community safety when making bail decisions.

Bail will be refused for a range of new offences, including aggravated home invasion and aggravated carjacking, unless there are exceptional circumstances – bringing them into line with murder and terrorism.

Additionally, bail will be refused for many more offences unless the accused can demonstrate compelling reasons.

These offences include:

  • rape
  • kidnapping
  • armed robbery
  • intentionally or recklessly causing serious injury with gross violence
  • culpable driving causing death
  • dangerous driving causing death or serious injury
  • dangerous or negligent driving while pursued by police
  • persistent contravention of a family violence intervention order

People who commit serious indictable offences while on bail, summons, parole, a community correction order or under sentence will not be granted bail again unless they can prove there are exceptional circumstances, the release added.

The Government will introduce a second wave of bail reforms later this year which will cover more complex matters, including giving police more powers to remand and clarifying the ‘unacceptable risk’ and ‘reverse onus’ tests.

Attorney-General Martin Pakula said, “We’re pleased this important legislation that will make Victoria safer has passed Parliament. We’re making it harder than ever to get bail in Victoria, and we’re making community safety a higher priority.” (TIW)

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