Members of the Victorian legal profession have called on election candidates to commit to fundamental legal rights in the lead up to the state election, scheduled for 27 November.
Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) president Steven Stevens said a "Call to the Parties" would be sent to all Victorian election candidates, who will be surveyed on their commitments to legal issues.
"Governments and potential governments are under unrelenting pressure to compromise human rights and the Courts to impose ever-tougher sentences," he said.
"We have been disturbed to see all parties make extravagant promises to get tough on crime, without paying enough attention to individual rights and the need for courts to judge each case on its merits."
Stevens said key priorities of the legal profession were access to justice for all and the provision of legal aid.
"A well-resourced police force must be balanced by a well-resourced legal aid system if justice is to be fair for all," he said.
"We hope that any incoming government can resist the race to the bottom on law and order."
The LIV is seeking protection of judicial discretion and the abolition of mandatory penalties; the retention of suspended sentences and the protection of judicial discretion; and appropriate limitation and oversight of police powers, in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights.
Other priorities include moving toward a unified national profession; incentives to recruit and retain lawyers in regional areas and access to interpreters in civil cases.