STEP UP FOR FAMILY LAW REFORM

Written on the 5 August 2014

STEP UP FOR FAMILY LAW REFORM

AS the Queensland Law Reform Commission gets a boost, strong law reforms to protect families are expected to be passed in parliament today.

This will include new penalties for animal torturers and sex offenders, as well as new double jeopardy rules to bring Queensland into line with the rest of Australia.

The overarching long-time goal has been to make Queensland the safest place to live, work and raise a family. 

Attorney-general and minister for justice Jarrod Bleijie (pictured) says the reforms should be enacted to revitalise frontline services for families.

This news comes as Queensland Law Reform Commission swears in five new members to assist with its workload.

“Keeping families safe and revitalising frontline services are some of the government’s top priorities and these reforms rebalance the scales of justice in several ways, from tackling animal torturers to cut and run sex offenders,” says Bleijie.

“It will also stop offenders from potentially and literally getting away with murder, by bringing Queensland’s double jeopardy rules in line with the rest of Australia.

“Many of the reforms are ground-breaking, putting Queensland ahead of the rest of Australia when it comes to tackling the criminal elements in our community and ensuring swift, efficient access to justice.”

Bleijie says the new appointments to the Commission will facilitate the enactment of this by bringing a fresh perspective to legislation. 

“It’s important we continue to look at long-standing legislation in our state to ensure it is simplified and modernised to reflect the progress of our great state," says Bleijie. 

“Following these appointments, the Commission will now be headed by justice David Jackson of the supreme court, an experienced legal mind who will bring a fresh perspective to legislation.

In addition to Jackson, former supreme court justice Margaret Wilson, Peter Hastie QC, Dr Peter McDermott of the University of Queensland’s Law Faculty, and former Queensland University of Technology Law lecturer Samantha Trave have also been appointed to the Commission. 

Specific reforms include:

  • A new offence of serious animal cruelty, with a maximum penalty of 7 years in jail.
  • Applying amendments to Queensland’s double jeopardy rules retrospectively, allowing offenders who got away with serious crimes in the past to be retried if new and compelling evidence emerges.
  • Mandatory one year imprisonment (maximum 5 years) for a sex offender who removes his or her GPS monitoring bracelet.
  • Amending the existing offence of Stealing by looting to ensure the penalty applies to an offender who steals property from a declared area under the Disaster Management Act 2003, including when the theft occurs immediately after the declaration ends to ensure victims are appropriately protected until they return to their property.
  • Increasing the maximum penalty for procuring a child or a person with a mental impairment for prostitution from 14 years to 20 years.
  • Allowing the court to list a predator convicted of child grooming as a Dangerous Offender, even if he or she was caught by a police officer pretending to be a child.
  • Creating six new match-fixing offences with maximum penalties of 10 years imprisonment, in line with other Australia jurisdictions.
  • Allowing online pleas of guilty for minor offences which currently already allow written pleas of guilty.
  • Establish a presumption that expert witnesses give evidence via video link, instead of in person in court, unless otherwise ordered by the court.
 

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