Queensland Law Society

Parliamentary sitting week 26–28 November 2019

In the last sitting week of 2019, the following legislation was introduced:

1. Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Bill was introduced by Hon Yvette D’Ath Attorney-General of Queensland on 27 November 2019. The policy objective of the Bill is to improve the responsiveness of the criminal justice system to child sexual offending and the victims of child sexual offences by amending a range of legislation including the Criminal Code and Evidence Act 1977.

Specifically, the Bill:

• Creates new offences criminalising the possession, production and supply of anatomically correct, life-like child replicas used for sexual gratification and some other minor and technical amendments;
• Provides for retrospective application of the offence in section 229B (Maintaining a sexual relationship with a child);
• Extends the grooming offence in section 218B (Grooming children under 16) to certain persons other than the child;
• Provides for retrospective application of the removal of limitation periods on prosecutions for certain child sexual offences;
• Creates a new offence of failure to report belief of child sexual offence that requires all adults to report child sexual abuse to police;
• Creates a new offence of failure to protect a child from child sexual offence that applies in an institutional context;
• Ensures that the new failure to report and protect offences apply to information or knowledge gained during, or in connection with, a religious confession;
• Amends the Evidence Act 1977 to:
o Modify jury directions and warnings in relation to delay and forensic disadvantage; and
o Establish an intermediary scheme at all levels of courts, to be prescribed by regulation, to mitigate the difficulties that witnesses of child sexual abuse may experience in participating in the court process and in giving evidence;
• Amends the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 to:
o Exclude good character as a mitigating factor at sentence where that good character facilitated the child sexual offending;
o Provide that when sentencing offenders for historical child sexual offences the court is to sentence offenders in accordance with sentencing standards at the time the sentence is imposed, rather than at the time of the offending.

The Bill was referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for consultation.

• Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 - here
• Explanatory Notes - here

2. Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Bill was introduced by Hon Yvette D’Ath Attorney-General of Queensland on 28 November 2019.

The Bill amends over 20 acts in the justice portfolio including amendments relating to the effect of interest on monetary limits in various courts and tribunals, protections for vulnerable witnesses, the coronial system, regulation of the legal profession, clarifications to various offences under the Criminal Code, the Land Court processes relating to Mineral Resources Act 1989 matters and amendments to the Succession Act 1981.

Specifically, the Bill:

• Streamlines processes in relation to:
o The granting of certificates under section 22(2)(c) of the Appeal Costs Fund Act 1973 where the presiding judge, magistrate or justice has died; has stopped being a judge, magistrate or justice; or it is not reasonably practicable for them to grant the certificate due to illness;
o The acceptance of certain out-of-time complaints under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991;
o The appointment of mediators under the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994; and
o Applications for, and the execution of, court appointed wills for people without testamentary capacity under the Succession Act 1981;
• Ensures the intended application of the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003 to all appropriate classes of prisoner;
• Enhances the protections for vulnerable witnesses under the Evidence Act 1977;
• Streamlines and simplifies the operation of certain provisions in the Criminal Code and Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 to enhance the efficiency of criminal proceedings;
• Improves the administrative and operational efficiency of the coronial system including in response to:
o The coronial findings following the inquest into the death of Bryan Hodgkinson to ensure that all inquests (including inquests that are part heard or inquests to be re-opened) come within the ambit of the Coroners Act 2003 regardless of when the death, or disappearance or suspected death, occurred; and
o Issues identified by the State Coroner and highlighted in the Queensland Auditor-General’s Delivering Coronial Services Report 6: 2018-19.
• Confirms the protections and immunities applicable to certain types of assessors;
• Clarifies the effect of interest on monetary limits in the District Court, Magistrates Courts and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT);
• Clarifies, updates and strengthens legislation for the regulation of the legal profession;
• Clarifies the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Courts Act 1921 in relation to personal actions for the recovery of chattels;
• Supports the efficient operation of the Ombudsman’s function with respect to human rights complaints by allowing delegation to an appropriately qualified officer;
• Ensures the intended operation of the restricted premises scheme under the Peace and Good Behaviour Act 1982 in response to a Magistrates Court interpretation of the definition of disorderly activity as not including unspecified criminal activity; and
• Amends other justice portfolio statutes to streamline administrative processes, clarify various provisions and make amendments of a technical or drafting nature.

The Bill was referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee for consultation.

• Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 - here
• Explanatory Notes - here

3. Associations Incorporation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Bill was introduced by Introduced by Hon Yvette D’Ath Attorney-General of Queensland on 26 November 2019. The Bill proposes various governance reforms for incorporated associations.

Specifically, the Bill:

• Clarifies the operation of the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 by inserting an objects clause to facilitate greater understanding of the purpose of the Act;
• Introduces a mechanism to expressly allow incorporated associations to amend their rules in a way that replaces the association’s current rules with the model rules currently in force;
• Imposes obligations on management committee members and officers to:
o Exercise their powers and discharge their duties with care and diligence, in good faith, in the best interests of the association and for a proper purpose;
o Not improperly use their position to gain a pecuniary benefit or material advantage for themselves or another person; and
o Not improperly use information obtained from their position to gain a pecuniary benefit or material advantage for themselves or another person;
o Disclose material personal interests;
o Disclose remuneration or benefits paid/given to management committee members and senior staff members, and their relatives; and
o Prevent insolvent trading of the association;
• Reduces regulatory burden for incorporated associations and charitable entities in a number of ways, including by allowing entities registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission to be exempt from State-based financial reporting requirements; and
• Streamlines government processes in regards to vesting powers, investigative powers and appointment of disaster appeals trust fund committee.

The Bill was referred to the Education, Employment and Small Business Committee for consultation.

• Associations Incorporation and Other Legislative Amendment Bill 2019 - here
• Explanatory Notes - here

4. Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2019

The Bill was introduced by Hon Yvette D’Ath Attorney-General of Queensland on 28 November 2019, introducing new dishonesty offences for Ministers and local councillors and other local government reforms.

Specifically, the Bill:
    
• Amends funding and expenditure arrangements for State elections;
• Aims to improve the actual and perceived integrity and accountability of State elections and ensure public confidence in State electoral and political processes by:
o Increasing public funding available for eligible parties and candidates to provide for proper public discussion;
o Allowing for individual persons or entities to have a reasonable opportunity to communicate without being “drowned out” by the communication of others; and
o Securing the actual and perceived integrity of the State electoral and political processes by reducing the risk that a single person or entity can have an improper, corrupting or undue influence on political parties, candidates and third parties involved in electoral campaigning.
• Makes voting booths and pre-poll voting offices more neutral spaces by reducing the ability for signage to crowd out spaces, amongst other changes in relation to polling booths;
• Introduces offences for Ministers who fail to disclose conflicts of interest or update their register of interests with dishonest intent to obtain a benefit for themselves or another person, or cause detriment for another, with penalties of up to 2 years imprisonment;
• Introduces a new offence that applies if a councillor dishonestly contravenes particular obligations in regard to conflicts of interest or registers of interests;
• Introduces new requirements relating to councillors’ registers of interests to align with the requirements applying to State Members of Parliament for statements of interests.

The Bill was referred to the Economics and Governance Committee for Consultation.

• Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2019 - here
• Explanatory Notes -  here

5. Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Bill was introduced by the Hon Steven Miles MP on 28 November 2019. The Bill amends multiple health portfolio Acts and Regulations to implement policy initiatives and to improve the effective operation of the Acts, including amendments to:

• Prohibit the practice of conversion therapy by health service providers in Queensland
• Require hospitals to have regard to the effective and efficient use of resources for the public health sector as a whole;
• Require each hospital to have a strategy for achieving health equity for Aboriginal and Tress Strait Islander people;
• Require each hospital and health board to have one or more Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons as members; and
• Recognise that hospitals, health services and ambulance services have mutual obligations to cooperate.

The Bill was referred to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee.

Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 - here
Explanatory notes - here

Bills passed this Parliament

In the last sitting week of parliament in 2019 the following bills were passed
:

1. Motor Accident Insurance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

The Bill was introduced by the Hon Jackie Trad MP and referred to the Economics and Governance Committee. The Bill:

• Creates two new offences prohibiting claim farming;
• Requires a supervising principal of the law practice acting for a claimant to complete a law practice certificate affirming that the supervising principal and each associate of the practice have not engaged in claim farming and, if the claim is a speculative personal injury claim, confirming that the costs agreement for the claim is in compliance with statutory rules regarding the maximum amount the practice can recover in legal costs for a speculative personal injury claim (the ‘50/50 rule’);
• Strengthens the enforcement and special investigation powers of the MAIC;
• Expands the MAIC’s functions to include the investigation and prosecution of claim farming, and
• Expands the objects of the Act to encourage licensed insurers to act in a way that supports the integrity of, and promotes public confidence in, the statutory insurance scheme.

The Bill was passed with amendments on 26 November 2019.

• Motor Accident Insurance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 - here
• Explanatory Notes - here


2. Health Transparency Bill 2019

Introduced by Hon Steven Miles MP and referred to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee, the bill:

• Establishes a legislative framework for collecting and publishing information about public and private hospitals and residential aged cared facilities (RACFs);
• Amends the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 to introduce a minimum nurse and support worker skill mix ratio and minimum average daily resident care hours in public RACFs; and
• Amends the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 to implement recommendations of the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Committee’s Inquiry into the performance of the Health Ombudsman’s functions pursuant to section 179 of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013.

The Bill was passed with amendment on 28 November 2019.

• Health Transparency Bill 2019 - here
• Explanatory notes - here

3. Holidays and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019

Introduced by Hon Grace Grace MP and referred to the Education, Employment and Small Business Committee, the bill provides for Christmas Eve (24 December) to be observed as a part-day public holiday from 6pm to 12 midnight.

The Bill was passed with amendment on 27 November 2019.

• Holidays and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 - here
• Explanatory notes - here