7th January 2018
The Community Advocacy Alliance (CAA) has seen so many of its observations and proposals become widely recognised by others that it almost becoming mundane. We have discussed how out of touch the judiciary has become, how Victoria’s crime tsunami grew and grew and how both government and its agencies stood helplessly looking on.
The Sydney-based Weekend Australian was also looking on. Read the January 6-7 edition. Headlines read “African gang’s reign of fear” (p.1), “Smartphone ban annoyed alleged (bailed) cop-kicking teen” (p4), “(judge) Lasry tweet ‘risks court impartiality’ “ (p. 4), “Streets of Menace” (p. 11), “Melbourne is Trouble-free for Gangs or Union Thugs” (p. 16), “Politically correct culture erodes the justice system”, (p. 17) and “Gesture politics blocks the nation’s progress” (p. 11) – all save the last item dealing exclusively with Victoria.
This respected national observer chose to speak out where our own State authorities either misled us or did too little too late. Will they now listen to what we said – now that the national newspaper is saying it? Probably not, despite last week’s about-turn on recognising, at long last, the existence of gangs.
We believe that too many magistrates and judges in Victoria have for so long demonstrated unwillingness to apply the law to recalcitrant or serious offenders, seeking excuses to avoid jailing those who most obviously prey upon citizens and looking for loopholes in the law, and that as a group they should now be made more publicly accountable; the courts ought to more overtly support the police officers who expose those offenders, by imposing penalties that fit the crimes. The absence of adverse consequences for offenders ensures that their peers and admirers will copy them – hence the “tsunami”.
Thus we advocate the appointment of judges and magistrates on the open recommendation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee, rather than on the basis of who are politically correct favourites.
We also advocate such appointment becoming contractual, with renewal depending upon the same Committee being satisfied that an official has actually demonstrated willingness to apply the law of the land fairly and with proper regard for the protection of the persons and property of citizens.
To best avoid any appearance of party favouritism the committee’s views should not be acted upon unless supported by a majority of members drawn from both sides of the Lower House.