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Law and order is no get-out-of-jail card for floundering politicians

Luke McNamara and Julia Quilter write in The Conversation (12.12.18) about how ‘law and order’ was once seen by some as a sure-fire voter winner in elections. But the authors point out how that’s changing, after a concerted effort by Victoria’s opposition appeared to backfire badly at their recent state election.

‘With confidence in politicians at an all-time low, it would be easy to assume criminal law-making is only ever about “law and order” bidding and winning elections.

‘For example, when it emerged that Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was on bail when he killed one man and injured two others in Bourke Street, Melbourne, on November 9, the Victorian opposition reiterated its plan for a “one strike and you’re out” bail system.

‘This was classic law and order politics – though it didn’t produce the result Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy had hoped.

‘All instances of criminal law-making (or promising) deserve scrutiny – especially if they raise concerns that politicians might be politicising the law for electoral advantage. However, it would be a mistake to assume this is the only way criminal laws are made.

‘We are part of a team of Australian researchers examining how, when and why criminal laws are made. What drivers and processes sit behind the moment when an attorney-general stands up in parliament and introduces a new bill? And how do we assess what makes a good process?’

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