Queensland Law Society

Legislative rush impacts the rights of all Queenslanders

Date 17 Oct 2013
Contact Natalie Graeff, Manager Corporate Communication
Phone 07 3842 5868
Mobile 0488 433 884
Email n.graeff@qls.com.au

Queensland Law Society (QLS) has warned a raft of new and amended legislation rushed through parliament puts at risk the democratic rights of all people, and threatens the fundamental principle of the separation of powers.

QLS President Annette Bradfield said proposed amendments to the Criminal Amendment Act 1945 would see the judiciary’s power transferred to the Executive Government in certain circumstances.

“Separation of powers means the Government makes the laws and the courts decide how the laws should be applied. This fundamental system of checks and balance is threatened if Executive Government becomes the judge, jury and executioner in certain cases,” Ms Bradfield explained.

“A judge has the skills and knowledge to understand and assess all the circumstances of a case and make an informed decision.”

Queensland Law Society has also raised concerns with the new Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill, known as the VLAD Bill, stating the Bill applies to a much broader section of the community, beyond bikie gangs.

“The provisions of the VLAD Bill are so broadly drawn they can apply to any association or business, or anyone out in public with three people or more,” Ms Bradfield explained.

“If you were charged with an offence like wounding while being involved with that association, you would have to prove that your association doesn’t exist to commit crimes. If found guilty of the crime, you will receive a mandatory 15 year prison term in addition to the sentence otherwise imposed by the court for the crime.”

QLS considers the most fundamental attack on the rights of Queenslander's comes in the shape of the proposed changes to the workers’ compensation scheme.

The changes to the scheme mean that from 15 October, more than 50% of people who injure themselves at work due to the negligence of their employer can no longer sue for damages.

The decision as to who can sue is a critical decision and the changes remove review and appeal rights. QLS predicts disputes over assessment outcomes will ultimately increase resulting in higher premiums.

“We have the best workers’ compensation scheme in Australia; WorkCover has just posted a half billion dollar profit; and we have the second lowest premiums in the country,” Ms Bradfield said.

“Our members are asking why fiddle with a scheme that isn’t broken?”

QLS has reiterated its keenness to consult with Government on legislative changes and to provide advice to ensure good laws are made in Queensland.