Premier Daniel Andrews has called on judges to heed community fears about crime when sentencing violent criminals.
But the Law Institute of Victoria's president-elect, Belinda Wilson, said it was crucial the judiciary remained independent of government.
Mr Andrews made his comments after The Age revealed on Saturday that no judges had applied minimum sentences in Victoria, except on appeal, for a variety of violent crimes.
Statutory minimum sentences, more commonly known as mandatory sentences, have been in place for certain violent crimes since 2013. However, the laws have provisions that allow judges to take "special reasons" into account to bypass mandatory sentences that apply for some crimes.
Judges in the County Court have used these six times since January 2014, according to figures compiled by Court Services Victoria for Fairfax. They have been used twice in the Supreme Court.
Mr Andrews said that while it was important every case was heard on its merits, "at the same time I'm concerned to make sure that we have a tough statute book".
"It would be my expectation that just as politicians ought to listen to the community – and we do – the judiciary need to hear the very clear message coming from the Victorian community," he said.
"The safety of the community has got to come first when you're talking about sentencing and the administration of the justice system in our state and in our nation. That is a common sense approach; it's my approach."
Sentencing Advisory Council chairman Arie Freiberg said minimum sentencing laws were working as intended.
"The fact that judges have regard to the special reasons provisions demonstrates that the law passed by Parliament is being properly applied in the courts," he said.
However, when then attorney-general Robert Clarke introduced minimum sentences for gross violence offences in 2012, he told the Victorian Parliament the government expected special reasons to be invoked only in "rare unforeseen circumstances where it would be clearly outside the intention of the Parliament for the offender to be sentenced to a non-parole period of four years or more".
He added: "The court must have regard to Parliament's intention that the sentence that should ordinarily be imposed for the gross violence offences is a jail sentence with a minimum non-parole period of four years."
In September, after the Andrews government announced its plans to adopt minimum sentences for carjackings and home invasions, civil liberties group Liberty Victoria said it was "deeply concerned" about the increased number of crimes subject to mandatory sentences.
"Liberty Victoria is deeply concerned about the gradual erosion of judicial discretion in sentencing and the move towards mandatory and/or more prescriptive models of sentencing," it said.
"Part of that concern stems from the need for the legislature to carefully protect the separation of powers so that a strong and independent judiciary is able to ensure that justice is done in the individual case."
Ms Wilson, said there was "overwhelming evidence" that a one-size-fits-all approach to sentencing did not work.
"Judges are acutely aware that the sentences they impose take into account community safety when going through the incredibly complex sentencing process that has been set by government," she said.
"It is important that our legal system continues to be independent from government, with sentencing decisions left to judges who consider all factors, including threats to the community.
"The discretion of the appropriate sentence should be left to the best placed person to make this decision, and that is the judge."