Victorian Premier announces shake-up of state's bail laws

The Victorian Premier has announced a shake-up of the state's bail laws after Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall attack.

Daniel Andrews told reporters this morning the magistrates court would establish a night court.

"Work is currently under way, to establish an after-hours magistrates court so that magistrates, rather than bail justices, will be able to hear bail applications, particularly for those serious matters," he said.

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Andrews said the broader issue of the way the bail system operated was a significant change that needed to be made.

"And that is why I'm announcing today that former DPP (director of public prosecutions) Paul Coglin has been engaged by the Victorian Government to talk about it," he said.

"Nothing will be off the table. Nothing will be off limits. This will be a full examination with the provision of urgent advice which will be provided to the government by April 3 for legislative change, for reform, for the sort of reform that has to be made to keep Victorians safe and the sort of change that we owe these victims and their families."

Andrews said the Bourke Street Mall attack on Friday was a cause of great sadness and profound anger.

"How could this have happened?" he said. "How could such a tragedy have come to our city? "How could so many lives end and so many lives change forever?

"Over the last two years since we came to government, and indeed, for two years before that under the previous government, many changes have been made to our bail system. What Friday's events tell us to do, tell us beyond any doubt, is that while those changes have been important, we need to go much further.

"We need to have a really close look at each and every element of our bail system and we need to make profound change for the future to keep Victoria safe."

Attorney-General Martin Paukla said over the years there had been various attempts to tighten the system.

"But now we are going to look at it from top to bottom, and this is not like a Law Reform Commission review, we're not asking for 12 months, or anything of that nature. We are asking Coughlin to provide us with this advice from 10 weeks and to provide us with practical options for legislative reform that we can implement quickly," he said.

Andrews said within days addition magistrates would be available to Victoria Police.

"That will mean that they don't need to go to a bail justice, we will have more to say about where we draw the line, if you like, in coming days for violent matters, for complex matters, for serious matters," he said.

"The forming of a night court, that will take a little longer. But just like the community, I too am impatient to see this happen. My department, the justice department, the Attorney, we all know we need to get on and get this to happen as quickly as possible."

Andrews could answer more questions about the changes once Coughlin reviewed the system and came back with suggestions.

He said there had been substantial changes to the Bail Act made by the previous government, but Friday showed it wasn't enough.

"We need to do more and to honour the memory of those who have paid such a high price, those who have lost their lives and by those who will be forever changed by what happened on Friday. We are angry, frustrated and desperately sad as Victorians. My job is to focus all of those things into the change and reform necessary to make Victoria safer. I intend to do just that," he said.

Andrews claimed the cost of the reform would not trump the importance of shaking up the bail laws.

Up to 15 Victorians remain in hospital, two of the injured are in a critical condition.

On Friday Dimitrious "Jimmy" Gargasoulas was accused of killing five people when he ploughed his car into innocent crowds at the bustling Bourke Street Mall in the heart of Melbourne.

Just five days before the tragedy, he was bailed against the wishes of Victoria police.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy said yesterday the whole bail system needed reform and Victoria would likely need to build new facilities to hold more people on remand if bail charges went ahead. Police want quick and urgent bail law reforms.

- news.com.au

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