Adjourned debate on second reading
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 11:59 :35 ): This bill is fulfilling a government 2014 election promise to double the compensation payments for victims of crime. Currently, the maximum amount payable from the victims of crime compensation fund is $50,000. This bill will double it to $100,000. Other payments from the fund will increase according to a new scale, and payments will be indexed each year in line with CPI.
Whilst I am happy that the maximum has been increased, I am disappointed that it has taken so long for the government to move this bill. I understand that the increased payments will be available for victims of crimes committed after 1 July 2015; however, as parliament needs to pass this legislation, those affected have been left waiting. I am also disappointed that the government is only meeting what they undertook to do before the election and they have not gone further.
I understand the fund is currently sitting at about $203 million, with an expected annual increase of $40 million. Even with more generous payments to victims, the fund is still expected to hold a substantial amount of money for the government. The $203 million is an enormous amount of money for the government to be stockpiling. Instead of keeping the money in the fund, the government would be much better placed putting this money toward services for the community, such as rehabilitation and support services for domestic violence and substance abuse.
There has been an increase in recent years in both these matters, and clearly more services are needed to help the ever-growing number of victims. I have heard stories from many who are unable to access services in South Australia and who have had to travel interstate or even overseas to obtain treatment. This is not good enough, especially when there is $203 million sitting in the government's coffers. I understand that, whilst maximum payments are to double, those at the lower end of the scale will not see much of an increase and the changes may preclude some from being eligible for a payment when they were eligible before. Again, it is not good enough that some may miss out because the government is more interested in propping up the budget bottom line.
I would like the minister to provide information about the changes made to the bottom end of the scale and advise whether there will be people who would have received a payment under the old scheme who will now be ineligible under the new scheme.
Debate adjourned on motion of the Hon. S.G. Wade.