New bail laws designed to capture serious adult offenders who show a deliberate disregard for bail conditions have been introduced into Parliament this week.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the Bail Amendment Bill 2015 will make bail jumpers charged with new serious offences justify why they should not be held in detention.
The Bill reverses the presumption in favour of granting bail to people charged with serious offences if they have convictions for failing to appear on bail in the past five years. Instead, an accused will have to ‘show cause’ as to why they should be released.
The new show cause category will apply to charges of manslaughter, rape, child sex offences, intentionally causing serious injury, abduction, kidnapping, threats to kill, armed robbery and gross violence offences.
The maximum penalty for failing to appear on bail will also double from 12 months to two years.
In addition the bill will require people charged with Victorian terrorism offences to demonstrate exceptional circumstances in order to be granted bail.
There will be a presumption that bail is to be refused if an accused is charged with intentionally providing documents or information to facilitate a terrorist act, or with hindering the exercise of special police powers to combat terrorism.
Under the Bill, a person’s public support for terrorist acts or terrorism organisations can be taken into account when assessing whether they would pose an unacceptable risk if bail was granted.
The Bill will also remove children from the offence of breaking a condition of bail, addressing a consequence of amendments made to the Bail Act by the Napthine Government, which resulted in the number of children held in remand tripling.
The changes will not prevent police or courts from remanding children when necessary, but will ensure remand is only used for children when there is no other reasonable option.
Quotes attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula
“Things are about to get a whole lot tougher for bail jumpers and people who choose to thumb their nose at the law. The Andrews Government have put in place serious consequences for bail jumpers who come before the courts.”
“These amendments put the focus where it should be, not on children but on those charged with the most serious criminal offences and who pose the most risk to our community.”
Reviewed 10 February 2021