Vic Parliament News – Dec19

Reports complete parliamentary year

Three Legislative Council committees have presented reports during the final parliamentary sitting week for 2019.

The reports outline the findings and recommendations from three public inquiries focusing on recycling and waste management, reforms to the commercial passenger vehicle industry, and firearms prohibition legislation.

After a seven-month investigation, the Legislative Council’s Environment and Planning Committee made 33 findings and 46 recommendations in a report that addresses a raft of recycling and waste management issues currently facing Victorians.

The findings and recommendations cover a wide range of issues, including the:

  • need to reduce waste generally, and thereby reducing landfill and problems associated with stockpiling
  • importance of sorting recycling, particularly the separation of glass from other recyclable materials
  • importance of education in the community to manage recycling and waste
  • complex governance arrangements within the different layers of government, and the potential for recycling and waste management to be designated an essential service.

“This has been a wide-ranging and complex inquiry. Based on the evidence we received, the Committee has developed a detailed set of recommendations aimed at dealing with the problems that have impacted recycling and waste management in our state,” Committee Chair Cesar Melhem said.

“Adoption of our recommendations will help to achieve better management systems and contribute to the development of a dynamic and vibrant recycling industry in Victoria,” he said.

Recent reforms to the commercial passenger vehicle industry were the subject of the report presented by the Legislative Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee.

The reforms replaced the previous system of issuing a limited number of licences and instead provided for an unlimited number of commercial passenger vehicle registrations. They also brought in changes to fare structures and legalised rideshare services.

In its report, the Committee called for the Victorian Government to clarify how the industry will be shaped going forward.

According to the Committee, two issues of concern remain for the industry:

  • the problem of touting, especially at Melbourne Airport and major events
  • the employment conditions for drivers following the sharp increase in commercial passenger vehicle registrations.

The Committee has made 13 recommendations that include provision of counselling services to affected stakeholders and reviewing the transitional funding package and how it was structured. It has also recommended introducing fare pricing indexation, reviewing the disparity in fares and driver incomes to ensure a level playing field, and requiring CCTV cameras to be installed in all commercial passenger vehicles.

To cap off the year, the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee presented its report on Firearms Prohibition Orders, making five recommendations.

Firearms Prohibition Orders are issued by the police against individuals who police believe pose significant risk to the community. The purpose of these orders is to ensure that members of criminal organisations are not able to possess firearms.

“Disrupting access to illicit firearms by these individuals and groups is without doubt an important element of the role of the police in promoting and upholding public safety,” said Committee Chair Fiona Patten.

The Committee found that although Firearms Prohibition Order legislation has been in effect for 18 months, there has been a slow rollout of the scheme to all Victoria Police regions.

It noted that the broad application of public interest under the Firearms Prohibition Order scheme allows law enforcement to flexibly respond to the individual circumstances in each case when deciding to make a Firearms Prohibition Order application. However, the intentionally broad application of the criteria has the potential to invite a broad interpretation of what constitutes public interest.

According to the Committee, this may affect the operation and effectiveness of the scheme in disrupting access to and possession of illicit firearms, especially by organised crime or terrorist groups, and raises the risk that members of the community with little or no criminal involvement could be targeted.

The tabling statements for the three committee reports can be viewed on the Victorian Parliament’s YouTube channel.

The government has six months from the date of tabling to respond to the findings and recommendations for each report.

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Kat Baddeley

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