Queensland’s peak lawyer group has voiced concerns about the state LNP’s proposed changes to domestic violence bail laws – saying they were unlikely to improve public safety.
Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth acknowledged there was some urgency in discussing this extremely important issue given the horrific domestic violence murder-suicide on the Gold Coast last month.
Ms Smyth said the proposed legislative changes were worthy of robust debate and welcomed the referral of the Private Member’s Bill to a Parliamentary Committee for consideration.
However, she said in its current draft the Bill may be counterproductive and was unlikely to deliver its intended effect of improving public safety in the context of domestic violence offences.
“QLS is of the view the proposed reverse of onus of proof provisions touted by the state opposition when considering the release of an alleged domestic violence offender back into the community would not deliver the intended effect of improving public safety,’’ Ms Smyth said.
“It is the Society’s view that proposed changes could be best achieved if the existing framework in the Bail Act was utilised more effectively.
“And rather than implement additional custody arrangements, an independent mental health professional could be established to assist the court in any case where there was a concern around the mental health of a defendant and in which there existed the potential that a person would reoffend upon release.’’
Another feature of the Bill unlikely to assist in protecting victims of domestic violence was the fitting of electronic GPS monitoring devices to alleged offenders.
Ms Smyth said there was no evidence to support the success of such a program – including one introduced to monitor dangerous sex offenders granted conditional release under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003.
“There is no proof these devices – unless very expensive and unlimited resources are provided to police or law enforcement agencies to monitor them – actually work,” she said.
“We strongly suggest that the matters raised in the Bill should be appropriately considered and debated through a parliamentary committee inquiry.
“QLS is looking forward to taking a very active role in assisting the committee to reach an informed recommendation to the Parliament.”
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