libertarians say new laws giving the
attorney-general power to lock up criminals
indefinitely is 'lunacy' from a 'young and
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".
Premier Campbell Newman's legal
crackdown on bikies has been called 'medieval' by
"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
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
"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