Queensland Law Society

President’s update

Presidents_update_Christine-Smyth-HR_retouched.pngThe ‘gay panic’ defence is in the spotlight today at the parliamentary Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee’s public hearing on the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2016.

Our immediate past president, Bill Potts, is front and centre on this, as we have several issues with this legislation because it is not well drafted. We are very concerned about potential unintended consequences and are urging the Government to provide more definition in a number of areas.

A particular concern is that, while we strongly support the intent of clause 10, which is to remove the ‘gay panic’ defence, the current wording would preclude the use of a provocation defence if the victim had sexually assaulted or raped the defendant, or the victim had sexually abused the defendant as a child.

Also in the news is our support for the return of the Sentencing Advisory Council. We sought this in our Call to Parties document prior to the last state election, and the decision to restore the council reflects our ongoing advocacy to make the creation of laws and the justice process transparent to all Queenslanders.

This week we also supported the move to scrap Queensland’s lockout laws in favour of the more measured mandatory digital screening process to identify potential offenders.

On Monday I was honoured to present to a packed meeting of the Sunshine Coast District Law Association on the topic of the actual costs of a ‘cheap’ will. With more than 70 attendees, representing around a fifth of Sunshine Coast solicitors, it was a great event for this active DLA, and I look forward to attending DLA meetings throughout the state during the course of this year.

Finally, I urge all members to express their concern on federal anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) proposals that would impose unprecedented obligations on solicitors to report on their clients’ activities. These strike at the heart of the sanctity of the solicitor/client relationship.

We have expressed our opposition, and will be making further submissions. Please lend your support by sharing your views via an anonymous member survey.

Christine Smyth

QLS president