Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:32): Pursuant to standing order 23.29, I lay on the table a report from the Legal and Social Issues Committee on the inquiry into extremism in Victoria, including appendices and a minority report. I further present transcripts of evidence, and I move:
That the transcripts of evidence lie on the table and the report be published.
Motion agreed to.
Ms PATTEN: I move:
That the Council take note of the report.
I would just really like to start by acknowledging the extraordinary team that has guided the Legal and Social Issues Committee not just through this inquiry and this report but also through the other 11 that we have done. This is the 12th report of the Legal and Social Issues Committee and our 11th inquiry. I would also just like to recognise Dr Ratnam in bringing this inquiry to the committee and also her dedicated work on this inquiry, as well as all of the other committee members who took part in this inquiry.
You would not normally expect a state Parliament to be looking at an issue such as extremism—and we certainly followed on from our federal counterparts, who had begun an investigation into extremism in Australia. I think what I took from this is that to address and stop extremism in our community requires a whole-of-government approach, and it requires whole levels of approaches. Some of that is around security and legislation, but a lot of it is around community building. It is around addressing social exclusion. It is about addressing so many of the issues that some of our multicultural community, our First Nations people and many people are experiencing—that sense of isolation that can lead them down some very dark and sometimes dangerous paths.
This is certainly what we heard from—sometimes very brave—witnesses who gave evidence to this committee. They did that at personal risk and at risk not just to themselves but to their families. Many of them have actually been attacked since giving evidence to this committee. So we are enormously grateful for that. But as I say, this is not the end of this conversation. I do not think it is the end of this conversation in this state Parliament, and certainly it is not the end of this conversation nationally.
I feel that this report actually started the conversation about what we can do to address extremism in our community and what we can do to not only address it but prevent it. In doing that we really need to look at community building and other social cohesion measures.
Aside from that but as part of that—and certainly it is something that has been in conversations in the last 24 hours in the media but also in the last few months—is the responsibility that members of Parliament have to their community to support them and to not incite or help perpetrate social isolation or even extremism. To that end we recommended an integrity charter, which will again help build the public trust in our Parliament. We know that that public trust is at a pretty low ebb at the moment, and this committee recommended that we introduce an integrity charter as part of a whole bunch of other measures that we have heard about from IBAC and the Ombudsman in a whole range of areas.
I do encourage members to read this report. I think it covers off on a lot of areas. It does not pretend to provide the answers. What it does do is start opening the conversation. There are some very sensible measures that we have recommended in this report and I commend it to the house.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Report tabled 29/8/22