Australasian biker news

Home Bike News Rides  Events Tech Links

Queensland 'medieval' in its legislative agenda


The Queensland government's "medieval approach" to criminal justice runs the risk of sending the state "back to the days of being a colony" where detention was at the Governor's pleasure, claim legal stakeholders.

The Queensland Law Society and the Catholic Prison Ministry have separately expressed concerns about recent changes to the state's law, which limit the power of the judiciary to make its own decisions.

Catholic Prison Ministry coordinator Dave Martin said the government's plan to send "high risk" offenders, ruled by a jury to be "vicious lawless associates" to an extreme maximum security prison was "against the basic human rights of prisoners".

Queensland must go west, says Premier Campbell Newman.

Premier Campbell Newman's legal crackdown on bikies has been called 'medieval' by critics.

"This is a medieval approach to criminal justice, bikies sentenced to imprisonment in maximum security units will have no access to rehabilitation opportunities and will exit the prison system traumatised and in some cases entirely unfit for reintegration into mainstream society," Mr Martin said.

Ahead of introducing the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment legislation on Tuesday, which includes mandatory sentencing for gang members, Mr Newman said the "first thing" the government had looked at was whether their prison plan complied with international obligations.

He said it did.

But looking at the wider picture, Queensland Law Society president Annette Bradfield said the government's activities this week put the "fundamental principle of Queensland's democracy" – the separation of powers – at risk.

Ms Bradfield said the threshold applied to worker's compensation claims, the VLAD legislation and the newly introduced changes to the Criminal Amendment Act, which will overrule the judiciary's decision on certain sex offenders, made the government "judge, jury and executioner".

"It has been an interesting week this week and the changes that have been raised by the government this week are significant and it is important that Queenslanders understand the significance of the amendments that have been proposed," she said.

"At the moment, judges make those decisions, judges are trained to make those determinations and politicians simply don't have the qualifications or the experience in that regard."

Queensland Law and Justice Institute president Peter Callaghan, SC, said the government needed to "declare its confidence in the judiciary and stop interfering with its function as if it was just another part of the executive".

"This is the latest in a series of attacks on the judiciary's discretion and we can not understand why that is," Mr Callaghan said.

"The Attorney-General has a right of appeal against sentences he thinks are lenient. We have to know why he thinks it is suddenly necessary to legislation mandatory sentences of imprisonment.

"Is it because he is losing appeals? I doubt that is the case. As for appropriating to himself the right to keep someone in prison, that is unheard of in the civilised world."