House debates

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Grievance Debate

Law Enforcement

6:44 pm

Photo of Jason WoodJason Wood (La Trobe, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My grievance is the awful crime surge in Victoria, in particular the youth gangs which are, sadly, nearly runny riot. When I say 'running riot', they actually did that during this year's Moomba Festival when we had the Apex gang at will run through the Melbourne CBD causing absolute fear in families who were dining out that night with children. The Apex gang is a gang which formed its name in the suburb of Dandenong in a street called Apex Street. The members are mainly of Sudanese origin and they have caused much concern and fear in Victoria.

One issue which greatly concerns me when dealing with this issue is the lack of police numbers in Victoria. As a former police officer, I know when I used to work at suburban stations such as Boronia, every shift would have a divisional van starting at three o'clock with the couple of cars. Now at stations such as Narre Warren and Pakenham, where there is this amazing growth corridor—in fact Cranbourne North is the fastest growing suburb in the country—there is only one unit on in the afternoon and all it is doing is rushing from job to job. Nearby Endeavour Hills police station is also under resourced. What does that mean? It means that if one unit gets tied up at Pakenham, Endeavour Hills or Narre Warren, the other units need to cover its areas. By the end of the shift, all the resources have been stretched to the limit and all members are basically tied up dealing with crooks or on other jobs.

The offences being committed are mainly modern offences which we have not seen before. You will be amazed to hear that the modus operandi these days for stealing cars, especially so-called luxury cars, is to break into a house and steal the car keys at night regardless of who is in that house. In Beaconsfield, a lady spoke to me whose door was kicked in at three in the morning. The family woke up and the mum and dad, who were upstairs, ran downstairs for fear of their children and realised the keys had been stolen, not the car. The offenders came back three or four days later. The family were again disturbed and this time, when the mother confronted them, they basically said they would be coming back that night with firearms and shouted out, as they have on numerous occasions, that they were Apex gang members. They also returned again, which is so surprising. Normally with law enforcement, when a person has been detected or there are witnesses, they do not come back. These guys are absolutely brazen and do not care. The Apex gang is hard core. It has from 60 to 140 members law enforcement tell me. Copycats in other gangs now bring it up to 400 members. When it comes to car theft, we have had a number of instances where when people are driving along they get bumped from behind and when they get out of the car they get attacked by these Apex gang members or by other youths. Every week in Victoria now over 400 cars are being stolen.

In Victoria, all crime rates are pretty much going up, especially for aggravated burglaries. Car theft went up by 60 per cent. The figures for New South Wales are going down. Obviously they have a Liberal government up there doing a great job with Premier Mike Baird. In reverse, we have Daniel Andrews and the state Labor government in Victoria—an issue I will speak about later if I get more time.

We need changes to juvenile justice. If a juvenile was on bail for committing a serious crime, in the past if they breached that bail—meaning if they committed further offences—the police would actually charge them for breaching their bail. Premier Daniel Andrews, in his wisdom, thought he would remove that. So what does that mean?

It means that if police catch a young person for committing aggravated burglary they then go on bail and they then commit other crimes whilst on bail. They are actually not having the charge of breaching their bail. To me, that needs to change, and change very quickly.

On Monday the front page of the Herald Sun had an article entitled 'Booted' which looked at the deportation of 173 criminals and the crackdown of this type of violence. I have been in communication with the minister for migration, Peter Dutton. And can I say he is doing a fantastic job; he is being very tough. I took these issues to him—the Apex gang. Also, I thank Minister Michael Keenan. We now have the situation where they have been run through the Australian Gangs Intelligence Coordination Centre. So the federal weight is now bearing upon these young criminals who have been involved in these awful crimes.

It is important to remember that the Australian government on behalf of the Australian community has the right to decide who will be accepted for permanent residency in Australia and, in its view, to become an Australian citizen. As the regulations currently state, any serious offence can mean that a non-citizen may be deported—this is when they are on the visas. Examples of serious offence which may render non-Australian citizens liable to deportation include offences when it comes to drug trafficking and other serious offences such as armed robbery, violence against the person, terrorist-related activity, kidnapping, blackmail and extortion. Crimes against children, because of their vulnerability, take a special importance, especially inducement to drugs, sexual assault, violence, kidnapping and crimes taking unfair advantage of children.

It is clear that those participating in the terrible gang activity that gangs like Apex have been committing recently in my electorate and all over Melbourne fits the criteria of violence against the person, armed robbery and, sometimes, organised criminal activity. These regulations have been enacted primarily in the past, focusing on crimes of a sexual nature and drugs offences.

In 2015-16—and I congratulate Minister Dutton again—the visas of 23 child sex offenders, two convicted murderers and 23 people guilty of drug offences were cancelled, leaving them liable to deportation on completing their terms in jail. This is a good thing. People who commit crimes like these are not abiding by the social contract we all have in Australia.

The issue which was on the front page of the Herald Sun related to a 19-year-old New Zealand citizen—Sudan-born Apex member Isaac Gatkuoth, who was on ice when he pointed a gun at the head of a terrified motorist during a robbery. I am happy to say that Isaac's visa was revoked—and rightly so. He gave up the right to be living in Australia. He was deported to New Zealand in April earlier this year.

The prevalence of these activities has been worsened by the current Victorian state Labor government undoing breaches of bail laws, which I discussed before. I said to Annika Smethurst of the Herald Sun when I raised the issue—and which was quoted in the paper—that these deportations send a crystal clear message that those who do not abide by Australian laws will be booted back to their home country. When you speak to victims who have been absolutely terrorised by what has occurred to them, there is no option but to ensure that these people do not continue to operate freely in Australia. They have been committing hideous offences against good Australian people. They have targeted, for example, international Chinese students at university. Why? Because they are viewed as a soft touch. In my electorate, Indian communities and Sir Lankan communities have been targeted. It just cannot go on. It cannot continue on the path it is going. My great concern is that it is only going to get worse and worse, especially when these young people hit adult jails, where they will be converted to be extremists. I have no doubt that will happen.

Minister Peter Dutton said Australia is a generous nation and we settle a record number of people in our country each year, but we will not hesitate to cancel visas of people who commit crimes against Australians. I totally concur with his comments.