Wednesday, 26 February 2020
Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee; Reference
(1) That the Senate notes the inquiries relating to domestic violence in Australia undertaken by the Finance and Public Administration References Committee in 2014-2015 and 2015-2017, and the 2019 Auditor General's report on implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022.
(2) That the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, informed by the reports named at (1), inquire into and report, by not later than 13 August 2020, on domestic violence with particular regard to violence against women and their children, including:
(a) the status of, and any barriers in implementing, the recommendations of the reports;
(b) the adequacy, effectiveness and resourcing of policies, programs, services and responses to domestic violence across the Australian Government, state and territory governments, local governments, non- government and community organisations, business and the media;
(c) immediate and long-term measures that need to be taken to prevent violence against women and their children;
(d) the effects of policy decisions regarding housing, legal services, and women's economic independence limiting the ability of women and children to escape domestic violence;
(e) how the Australian Government and state and territory governments can best support, contribute to and drive the social, cultural and behavioural shifts required to eliminate violence against women and their children; and
(f) any other related matters.
The Greens won't stand in the way of yet another inquiry into violence against women, but we note that the inquiries that this chamber got up—thanks to the Greens moving it—in 2015 and 2017 have still largely remained not acted upon by this government. So, we're not confident that this inquiry would be any different. The frontline domestic violence services sector have made it perfectly clear this week that they don't want more talkfests and that they are sick of telling this government what they need in order to keep women safe, which is proper funding so that they don't have to turn people away. We hope this inquiry doesn't simply take the pressure off government to properly fund frontline services so that 40 per cent of calls don't go unanswered when women seek out legal help in particular. The government knows what needs to be done. It's just not doing it, because it doesn't give a damn. But we look forward to this inquiry once again forcing people to give evidence—to say the same thing that the government will ignore yet again.
The opposition will be supporting this motion; however, our preference would be that it went to the Finance and Public Administration Committee and not legal affairs. We believe legal affairs has a number of references and a very heavy workload. This work had previously been done by the Finance and Public Administration Committee, as Senator Waters said—previous inquiries, extensive and detailed inquiries, with a number of recommendations. Again, the Labor Party would agree that there are a number of recommendations before government, which can act on those recommendations now. Ample evidence has been taken in a number of committees and inquiries that have been held by the Senate. If this can assist in any way in focusing minds, then so be it, but we certainly would urge the government to take action, rather than wait for yet another inquiry before an overworked Senate committee, which has already provided recommendations to government.
We in One Nation oppose this. One Nation wants to protect women and men, and especially children. We make decisions based on facts and data. Child homicides from 2000 to 2012 included 284 deaths by a parent—76 per cent of the 284 deaths were by a custodial parent; 49 per cent by the custodial mother; and 26 per cent by the custodial father. That is from the Australian Institute of Criminology report of filicide offenders, which is on the government's website.
The family law inquiry is underway. We need to wait until it reports on this major matter. That will give us the data on which to decide whether or not we need to look into anything further, because we believe it will unearth significant issues.