Legislative Council: Tuesday, June 14, 2022


Supervision Orders

The Hon. J.S. LEE (14:44): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General regarding supervision orders.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.S. LEE: Last week, Premier Malinauskas called on you as the state Attorney-General to review your decision to knock back a request of the Parole Board to keep a violent offender behind bars. The Parole Board chair, Frances Nelson QC, reportedly revealed that you denied the board's request to impose a detention order for a man who had breached an extended supervision order. She says the man was released, but was arrested three days later. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. What advice were you given in relation to the request, and by whom exactly?

2. Have you reviewed your decision since and, if so, what is the outcome of the review?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:45): I thank the honourable member for her question and the opportunity to outline how the scheme, which includes high-risk offenders, extended supervision orders and continuing detention orders, works in relation to high-risk offenders. The relevant act of parliament is the Criminal Law (High Risk Offenders) Act 2015 and it provides for the making of extended supervision orders and continuing detention orders in relation to high-risk offenders.

High-risk offenders are those who have been imprisoned in respect of a serious sexual offence or a serious offence of violence. The express object of the legislation is to provide the means to protect the community from being exposed to an appreciable risk of harm posed by a serious sexual and violent offender. The high-risk offenders act does this by allowing for an application to be made to the Supreme Court for a high-risk offender to be subject to an extended supervision order on their release into the community following a term of imprisonment.

In order for the Supreme Court to make an extended supervision order, the court must be satisfied that the person is a high-risk offender, as defined by the act, and that the person poses an appreciable risk to the safety of the community if not supervised under such an order. An extended supervision order can be made for up to five years and allows for the imposition of conditions on an offender's release beyond the expiry of their head sentence.

These conditions can require the offender to attend treatment and undertake drug screening. Once an extended supervision order is made by the court, the Parole Board is also empowered to impose conditions on an extended supervision order under the act and to vary or revoke conditions that it has imposed. If the conditions of an extended supervision order are breached, the offender may be summonsed to appear before the Parole Board. After hearing submissions, the Parole Board may vary or revoke a condition imposed by the board or impose new conditions.

Alternatively, the Parole Board may detain the person in custody, pending referral to the Supreme Court, to determine whether or not a continuing detention order should be made. If a referral is made to the Supreme Court for a continuing detention order, the parties to that application are the Attorney-General and the offender. The Parole Board is also entitled to make submissions on the hearing.

The Supreme Court may order that a person be subject to a continuing detention order if satisfied that the person has breached a condition of their extended supervision order and the person poses an appreciable risk to the safety of the community if not detained under such an order. The paramount consideration is the safety of the community. Where a continuing detention order is made by the court, the offender is detained in custody for the duration of what would have been remaining on the extended supervision order.

On 7 June 2022, the chair of the Parole Board spoke on radio about a particular offender, who is currently the subject of a supervision order. The chair of the Parole Board stated that the offender had acted entirely inappropriately, where the offender had recently appeared before the Parole Board. Having had the opportunity to review the file in question, in early May of this year I was asked whether or not to support a continuing detention order on the basis that the person had breached conditions broadly related to their place of residence.

The breaches did not relate to drug taking or further offending, on the information put before me, and the conduct spoken of by the chair of the Parole Board was not included in the material provided to me to consider. The offender had one month left on the offender's interim supervision order because an application to put the offender on a second extended supervision order was at the time listed for determination in the first week of June.

This meant that any continuing detention order would come to an end when the second extended supervision order application was determined. That would mean, in effect, based on advice that was provided as to the seriousness of the breaches and length of time a continuing detention order would operate, there would not be support for a continuing detention order.

My office has held extensive discussions with the Parole Board and the chair of the Parole Board and the secretary of the Parole Board. The issue of not having all the information about the offender's conduct, particularly at the hearing, will be resolved through changes made regarding information flow between the Parole Board and the Attorney-General's.

I have also instructed my department to prepare an advice on the operation of the high-risk offenders act and the role of the Attorney-General in relation to the making of applications regarding high-risk offenders. In particular, I have asked that we undertake to identify which body or person is best placed to furnish the Supreme Court with the information necessary to determine whether an extended supervision order or continuing detention order might be made.