“I was incredibly worried that some members of our community, perhaps many members of our community, interpreted our law and order policies in a particular way,” Mr Bach said.
“I’ve heard, and our party has heard from especially members of the African community in Victoria, that they felt that the way in which we communicated some elements of our policies at the last election wasn’t correct.”
The MP, who was recently promoted to junior shadow minister for education, last year released a book titled Combating London’s Criminal Class: A State Divided, 1869-95, assessing the effectiveness of repressive and punitive measures on habitual criminals.
His book, the publisher’s blurb states, highlights the inconsistent and unsuccessful ways in which penal punishments were doled out to repeat offenders in 19th-century London.
Dr Bach concludes his book by comparing 1800s English criminal law to populist policies that still persist in modern-day Australia to detrimental effect. He pointed to measures such as mandatory minimum sentences and registers of offenders as examples of such policies.
“Knowledge of the course of British penal policy in the 1850s and 1860s makes it unsurprising that support for repressive measures continues,” Mr Bach states in his conclusion.
“But an understanding of legislation designed to suppress the criminal class in the mid- and late Victorian period should also lead us to be sceptical of the specific measures advocated by [Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party] in Australia and countless other organs of the press, pressure groups and politicians in any number of other countries.
“This is despite the fact that many mid- and late Victorians undoubtedly came to think that the measures contained in the Habitual Criminals Act 1869 and the Prevention of Crime Act 1871 were ‘just common sense’.”
The prison population has almost doubled in the past decade and the annual cost of running the state’s jails is now more than $1.6 billion, triple the outlay in 2009-2010, because of tough-on-crime policies embraced by Labor and Liberal governments, a 2019 Age investigation reported.
Despite the mammoth spending on Corrections, 43.3 per cent of Victorian prisoners released in 2016–17 returned to prison within two years, according to Sentencing Advisory Council data released last year.
The Liberal campaign leading up to the 2018 election was built around dozens of tough-on-crime policies with a pledge to “jail the gangs” and “get back in control” of law and order.
Then-opposition leader Matthew Guy pledged a Liberal government would introduce mandatory minimum sentences for repeat violent offenders, despite mounting evidence suggesting they do not work to prevent crime.
Following Mr Nutt’s election review, Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said in November 2019 that the Liberal Party would “never walk away” from keeping Victorians safe.
Dr Bach said the party needed to get back to its “traditional” roots on law and order, and put rehabilitation at its core in reforming the criminal justice system.
He cited the Baillieu government’s establishment in 2012 of Parkville College to educate children in youth detention facilities as a successful Liberal Party policy that focused on rehabilitation and restorative justice.
“We’ve known for many years you need to approach individuals who over a period of time have a history of offending with a whole range of evidence-based interventions,” Dr Bach said.
“Deterrence has to be an element, punishment has to be part of the system and in Victoria we need to do far better to rehabilitate offenders for a whole range of reasons: for themselves, their families, but ultimately to keep the community safe.”
Mr O’Brien was contacted for comment.
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Sumeyya is a state political reporter for The Age.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article regarding QLD and Australian news named “Lib MP takes swipe at party’s disastrous 2018 election campaign”. This news update was shared by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our Australian news services.
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