11 April 2018
Queensland Law Society is committed to ensuring our solicitors have a voice in the upper echelons of Government and our advocacy team and policy committees have certainly been busy in recent weeks.
Most recently, deputy president Bill Potts, deputy chair of the QLS Criminal Law Committee Rebecca Fogerty, QLS acting advocacy manager Binny De Saram and myself represented the Society at the public hearing on the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. At this hearing, we explained our submission to the inquiry in which we supported the need to maintain judicial discretion in sentencing, refrain from the creation of new mandatory sentencing provisions, and for community education.
We also sent deputy president Bill Potts and senior policy solicitor Kate Brodnik to the public hearing on the Local Government Electoral (Implementing Stage 1 of Belcarra) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. At the hearing and in our written submission, we cautioned against the retrospective effect of some of the Bill’s provisions, stating that this is a breach of fundamental legislative principles. QLS also recommended that the definitions in the bill be clarified to ensure certainty for those it impacts.
Another key hearing we attended was for the Vegetation Management and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. Matt Dunn, Planning & Environment Committee Chair Michael Connor and Acting Principal Policy Solicitor Wendy Devine discussed the Society’s concerns about the retrospective amendments included in the Bill which would allow the imposition of restoration notices retrospectively to clearing conducted before the Bill is passed and also raised a number of other technical issues with the Bill.
Other hearings we have attended in the last few weeks have included the Mineral and Energy Resources (Financial Provisioning) Bill 2018, the Plumbing and Drainage Bill 2018 and the Local Government (Councillor Complaints) and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. I would like to thank all of our policy committees and working groups for the dedication and hard work they put into our submission work, public hearings and even on occasion media enquiries on important legislation affecting the people of Queensland.
To give you an idea of how much ground our advocacy team and policy committees cover on a regular basis, we currently have just under 50 submissions in the works across 15 practice areas and committees. These submissions require a lot of people-power with many discussions, drafting of submissions, approvals and of course the follow up work in attending hearings and providing further information as required.
A few weeks ago we covered another aspect of advocacy, with the first lecture for 2018 in the Modern Advocate Lecture Series. The Honourable Justice Martin Daubney, President of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, spoke to a fully-booked auditorium about “Advocacy in Applications”. If you missed out on the night you can catch up on our Facebook page with the recorded video. Keep an eye out for lecture two which will feature former chief magistrate Di Fingleton on 10 May.
Recently, the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Pathways to Justice - Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133) report was tabled in the Australian Parliament and published online.
There has been some interest in the media and wider public about the proposal to introduce legislation that will expressly require the courts to consider the unique systemic and background factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when sentencing.
QLS subject-matter experts will review the report and continue discussions with the relevant specialist committees for future input. As always, the Society supports evidence-based policy and looks forward to continuing to assist on the best laws for Queenslanders. You can read the report here.
May will be a big month for the profession and the Society, so please keep up to date with our events and offerings via our website and social media channels.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time with your feedback or even your stories about the great work being done by solicitors in their communities.
Ken Taylor, QLS president