Queensland Law Society

Executive overreach a danger to all

This week has brought significant legislative developments from the Queensland Government which impact on the profession and the rights of all Queenslanders.

Proposed changes to offenders’ parole

Proposed amendments to the Criminal Act would allow the government to bypass our judiciary to effectively keep certain offenders in jail for life.

The separation of powers is a fundamental principle that has always applied in Queensland. By shifting the responsibility for determinations on detention from the judiciary to the executive government, it means arbitrary detention will be at the sole determination of the executive.

These are ill-considered changes that would send Queensland back to its colonial roots when offenders were held in custody at the Governor’s pleasure.

New criminal laws

The three new criminal ‘bikie’ laws as passed today potentially apply to any association, any business, anyone out in public with three people or more. The VLAD Bill has clearly been drafted in haste and its provisions are so broad that it could apply to workplaces, sporting associations, book clubs, in fact a range of formal and informal situations.

Workers’ compensation

Queensland has the best workers’ compensation scheme in Australia. WorkCover posted a half billion dollar profit for 2012-13, Queensland has the second lowest premiums in the country, and only a very small percentage of claims are disputed.

However this week there has been a fundamental attack on a scheme which, on all the evidence, functions extraordinarily well.

The government’s workers’ compensation changes mean that more than 50% of people who are injured at work can no longer access common law to sue their employer for negligence.

And literally to add insult to injury, doctors engaged by government will be those who make the decision about who passes the raised threshold.

We are always keen to consult with government on legislative changes and provide advice to ensure laws are sensible, fair and just.

Your Society has conducted a number of activities on this issue – engaging with stakeholders and the media to advocate for the profession’s perspective and community’s rights. We hope that for the changes not yet enacted by law, there will be opportunity for consultation.