Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Crimes Amendment (Unlicensed Drivers) Bill 2018
Mr GEPP (Northern Victoria) (12:21:21) — I move:
That the Council take note of the report.
At the outset I thank the members of the committee, led by the chair, the member for Buninyong in the other place, Mr Howard; the deputy chair, Mr Tilley, the member for Benambra in the other place; other members from the other place, including the Honourable Martin Dixon, Natalie Suleyman and Murray Thompson, the member for Sandringham; and Dr Carling‑Jenkins from this place. Can I also thank the great work of the secretariat, led by Yuki Simmonds, the executive officer; Raylene D’Cruz, the research officer; and Christianne Andonovski, the administrative officer, who, certainly since I have been a member of the committee, have done some fantastic work to keep us all running along at a very rapid pace.
The Council referred this bill to the committee back on 20 June 2018, and the bill itself proposed to amend the Crimes Act 1958 to introduce new offences for causing serious injury or death while driving unlicensed in certain circumstances. It was drafted by Dr Carling‑Jenkins, and it was tragically in response to the death of 13‑year‑old Jalal Yassine‑Naja on 14 March 2017 in a collision with an unlicensed driver. The committee wishes to express its very deep sympathies to the friends and family of Jalal for their heartbreaking loss, and it really was heartbreaking. We want to acknowledge and express our respects particularly to Olivia Yassine, who has worked tirelessly since Jalal’s tragic death on a campaign for justice, called the Justice for Jalal campaign, in the face of this unthinkable tragedy. Unfortunately I was not there on the particular date, but I have been told — and I am sure Dr Carling‑Jenkins, if she is going to speak on this report, will reference it — of the courage that Olivia demonstrated to the committee in giving the evidence.
Unfortunately, because of the time frames available, we did not call for submissions. There was one day of public hearings, and we heard from certain stakeholders during the course of that one day. It is a very tragic set of circumstances, as the people who are familiar with the death of Jalal know, and I think it is important to reflect on the purpose of this particularly inquiry. It was to examine the contents of the bill separate from the particular set of circumstances that prompted the drafting of the bill that was put forward by Dr Carling‑Jenkins. A key consideration of the committee during its deliberations was the broader implications of the bill if implemented and any unintended consequences. The committee raised a number of issues regarding the bill, particularly with regard to the lack of clarity around the issue of causation, the lack of a fault element and the reverse legal onus of proof in the defence provisions. The committee also heard that reform in this area could potentially be achieved within existing legislative frameworks.
A majority of the committee decided to recommend that the government refer the report to the Department of Justice and Regulation to ensure that the very, very important issues that have been raised as part of this brief inquiry are considered as part of its investigations into the need for an offence of unlicensed driving that involves the death or serious injury of another person. Again I thank all the committee members, and I thank all the witnesses who came before the committee to give their expert opinion, particularly Olivia Yassine. I commend the report to the house.