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Reason Party: Jarryd Bartle

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Reason Party: Jarryd Bartle

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Jarryd Bartle, Reason Party candidate for Albert Park, says he wants “to make the case for evidence-based policy”.

Bartle says there’s been a “media sensationalisation in relation to crime” that’s lead to a “theatre of cruelty towards offenders and towards vulnerable people like drug users in order to gather votes”.

“I think community fear in relation to violence is completely legitimate and needs to be responded to, but it should be responded to in a way that’s very evidence based and is actually likely to result in a safer society.”

There has been a debate Victoria this year around crime and the representation of African-Australians youths in crime statistics.  This began in January in response to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s comments about “African gang violence” in Victoria.

“Early intervention is key,” he said when asked what measures he favoured.

“As soon as they have, show risk factors of anti-social behaviour or risk factors to do with substance abuse we need to have a health-oriented process in place to ensure that person doesn’t continue towards a life of crime.”

Both the Liberal and Labor party have sought this year to reduce the number of offenders released into the community.  The Andrews government tightened bail laws this year and the Liberal Party is calling for them to be tightened further still, extending the list of offences that would be ineligible for bail.  This contrasts with Bartle’s belief that community rehabilitation programs rather than jail will be more effective in reducing crime and recidivism.

“The evidence shows that if you want a young person who has offended to not continue on in a life of crime you need to put them through some sort of community-based program or some sort of diversion program. Putting kids in jail just makes them more dangerous.”

Victoria’s criminal justice system is important to Bartle, having worked as a criminal lawyer, a lecturer in criminal law and as a public policy consultant. It’s in this last role he says he “kept seeing that evidence being ignored for the sake of politics” and what drove him to enter the race for Parliament.

“I would be in favour of increasing the amount of community corrections orders used as well as if somebody is in prison, if they are being imprisoned, increasing the rehabilitation programs within prisons that currently exist.”

Bartle also believes a move towards community corrections orders and away from housing offenders in prisons and remand centres will create a large saving for the taxpayer.

“Reason has a clear policy of acting pragmatically.  We’re not in the business of over-promising something if there isn’t a revenue measure to support.”  At this time the only party with costings made public by the Parliamentary Budget Office is the Greens.

Calling for an inquiry modelled after the Inquiry into Drug Law Reform completed by Parliament this year, Bartle also makes the case for changes to mental health policy.

“We need an equivalent inquiry to that for mental health in Victoria.  People are waiting too long in order to access mental health services.

“There are a series of gaps that exist between hospital-based care, community-based care, and again it’s one of these things that we really need to take a whole approach to looking at our current system and identifying where the gaps exist.”

Drug law reform, including supporting legalising recreational cannabis, pill testing at festivals and a supervised injecting room in St Kilda, is a priority for Bartle, saying these can “reduce drug related harm in the community”.

The Reason Party is also pushing for greater political transparency and for anti-corruption mechanisms to be moved beyond the reach of politicians.

“It can be weaponised for partisan gain and we want to remove that as much as possible,” Bartle said.

“We need third party oversight.  IBAC is a good example of that and we should be expanding the powers of IBAC.”

While supportive of evidence-based policy across all areas, Bartle remains most passionate about drug law reform and criminal justice reform, describing them as “the things that I think are most important to improving the well-being of the community and the safety of the community”.

About the Writer
University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria

The University of Melbourne's Centre for Advancing Journalism offers a Master of Journalism and a Master of International Journalism, as well as a graduate...

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Reason Party: Jarryd Bartle