Minns defies civil society, expert consensus, crossbench, opposition, own government, to force through laws to jail children

Australian Greens

In an all night sitting of Parliament last night, The Minns Labor Government passed rushed, broad, and badly-drafted bail laws that will see vulnerable children and young people locked up.

Government members were personally instructed by the Premier to block some 20 proposed amendments to the laws, many from legal experts such as the NSW Bar Association and the Law Society of NSW in an attempt to limit foreseeable and unintended consequences arising from the sloppy drafting of the bill.

Greens MP and spokesperson for justice Sue Higginson said ‘This is the legislation of a coward.’

‘The opposition to these laws is remarkable. The Bar Association, the Law Society, the cross bench and even members of the Liberal Party and the government united against both the spirit and execution of new laws. We’ve witnessed unanimous, grave concern about the careless breadth and consequences of these laws. This is legislation forced on the government and the state by the Premier to appease a few shock jocks and columnists.

‘We know who these laws will hit hardest. They will be First Nations children and young people, and children with mental illness and disability. They will be children who are going hungry and who don’t have a steady roof over their heads. They don’t need jail time. They need help.

‘The evidence is clear. Locking up young vulnerable people makes reoffence more likely, it stunts their cognitive development, surrounds them with other young offenders, exacerbates the risk of severe mental illness and suicide, shatters families and unravels communities. This is the position of everyone who thinks seriously about crime and its causes. The Premier, Chris Minns simply does not care.’

‘These laws are an insult to the victims of crime in regional New South Wales. This knee-jerk, law-and-order posturing is a threat to our communities, our vulnerable children, and the tireless work of those who are doing the real work to solve the actual causes of crime. We deserve better than this.’

‘Every year, we spend around a million dollars on every single child in detention. It is an extraordinary waste. Imagine what we could accomplish for these regional communities and these young people by instead investing in community justice programs that prioritised diversion and well-being over prison sentences,’

‘To prevent crime – to truly keep a community safe – requires extraordinary compassion and understanding and support. It requires leadership,’ Ms Higginson says.

/Public Release. View in full here.