Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan)  — I also rise to speak on the Victims and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, and in doing so I could not help notice while I was sitting there and listening to Mr Finn for 15 minutes that he did not say a word about the actual bill. The only thing he talks about is gangs in the western suburbs.

Mr Finn interjected.

Mr MELHEM — The thing is I did not interrupt Mr Finn when he was making his contribution, but then I was paying attention and listening to Ms Springle when she spent most of her time with all her passion talking about the bill, talking about the purpose of this bill. This bill has been brought to this house to correct wrongs we have committed as a state collectively over the years. That is what we are talking about. We are talking about young kids back then in the 1950s who were taken from the care of their parents for whatever reason — right or wrong — and were cared for by the state. Mr Finn is moving on, but I am going to talk about the west and the gangs in a minute.

This bill is about correcting that wrong. They were taken from the care of their parents to the care of the state, and because of the way the record was set up until the early 1990s with one system of records, if that was the case, a criminal record was placed against your name even though you had had not committed any crime. That is what the bill does. It is actually to correct that — to separate that if you were in that category. We got it wrong. We have recorded in your history that you committed a crime when that was not the case, so that is what the bill is about. It is about correcting historical mistakes, historical errors. That is what the bill is about. It is not about gangs. It is not about what Mr Finn and the opposition are talking about.

I want to pull up Mr Finn about the western suburbs. I live in the western suburbs. I travel in the western suburbs. My kids grew up and are living in the western suburbs. I feel safe going out in the western suburbs. I am proud of living in the western suburbs. The western suburbs is one of the safest places in Victoria. This is like a Peter Dutton all over. This guy might become the Prime Minister tomorrow. I do not know if he is actually qualified for office — basically painting the picture of Victoria as Afghanistan. Victoria is not Afghanistan. Melbourne is not Afghanistan. The western suburbs of Melbourne are not Afghanistan.

On the so-called gang riots in Hillside two weeks ago, let us not let the truth get in the way of a good story! Do people really know what happened on that day? There were 40 girls — young girls, teenagers under the age of 16 — who had an argument about some relationship. That is what that event was. It was not a gang. It was not Apex. It was not people vandalising in the streets or people robbing people. It was a bunch of girls, and I know because I know people who were involved in that event. I paid attention to what was actually going on, and I got involved and wanted to know the truth. That is what happened — but no, the opposition wants to paint it as a gang. The world is collapsing!

I have got to pay tribute to Victoria Police. Maybe some people say they overreacted to that event and they did not need the horses, but the police came out and said it was not a gang. It was not a gang action, but unfortunately the Liberal Party want to paint this picture in people’s minds that gang activities in Victoria are running rampant and no-one can go anywhere. They want to create that image of mayhem because they want to get into government. They think that if they create enough storm — they are basically saying there is lawlessness in Victoria, in the suburbs et cetera, scaring people off — then that might get them some votes.

That is an absolute disgrace. We should not putting our people down, our state down or our suburbs down. Mr Finn talks about the western suburbs like they are the wild west. Let me tell you they are not the wild west. I am proud of being a resident of the western suburbs and representing the western suburbs. I feel safe going anywhere, anytime in the western suburbs. I feel safe.

My 16-year-old daughter goes to training in Hillside twice a week at night to play AFL. I want to congratulate her and the Hillside Sharks. Last Sunday they won the under-18 premiership. They are the girls of the western suburbs that actually go and play football in Hillside. Last year when they formed a team none of them had actually played football. None of them had actually played AFL at all. They got together when the AFLW competition commenced some years ago, and they decided to form a team. They got really bashed last year — I am talking about on the score board — losing a number of games 180-0, but this year they made it all the way and they won the premiership. They are the Hillside Sharks, and that is what is happening in the western suburbs. That is what is happening in Hillside. Girls under the age of 18 are playing AFL, and they feel safe to go out at night. It is not as Mr Finn would like you to believe — that the western suburbs of Melbourne are the wild west.

That is an absolute disgrace. He is supposed to be representing the western suburbs. Instead of putting your constituents down, instead of putting your suburbs down, you should be doing the opposite. You should be defending your suburb, defending your constituents and basically not putting them down, but that is exactly what Mr Finn is doing. He has been doing that every week, and to be frank I am just sick of it. I am sick and tired of Mr Finn and the members of the Liberal Party putting Victorians down and putting our constituents down simply because they want to score a political point. I suppose they are taking a leaf from Mr Dutton. We will see what happens tomorrow in Canberra. That is Liberal Party: they are not interested in policy and they are not interested in representing this state. They are basically just interested in throwing mud.

Going back to the bill, it is long overdue, and I want to commend the government and the minister for putting it together and bringing it to the house. It finally gives full effect to the royal commission’s recommendations. As of yet the opposition has not been able to commit to implementing all of the recommendations of the royal commission in relation to family violence. We are committed, and that is why we put this bill in place — to basically give full implementation to the royal commission recommendations.

Listening to some of the issues that have been raised in the last couple of years, we need to close the loopholes, and this bill will do exactly that. I will not go on any further. I know there are a number of speakers, and we are keen to get this bill through. I commend the government for bringing this bill to the house. I hope we can stop playing politics and wasting time and endorse this bill as soon as possible. With these comments I commend the bill to the house.


23 August 2018