Queensland Bill to Reverse Presumption of Bail for Terrorist Offences

Thursday 22 November 2018 @ 11.36 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research

On 13 November 2018, the Queensland Government introduced the Justice Legislation (Links to Terrorist Activity) Amendment Bill 2018 (QLD) (‘the Bill’). This Bill is for the purpose of implementing the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) commitment on terrorism by making amendments to the statutory presumption in favour of bail.

Background

One outcome from the 2017 COAG meeting was the commitment that there will be a presumption that bail or parole must not be granted to people with links to or convictions for terrorist activity. According to the Explanatory Memorandum for this Bill, this is in order to support national consistency:

‘The terrorist threat in Australia remains elevated. The cross-border nature of the threat of terrorism requires a national response to keep all Australians safe. National consistency is important to support interoperability and cooperation in national efforts to prevent and respond to terrorist threats.’

Main Amendments

This Bill proposes to amend the following main Acts:

  • Bail Act 1980 (QLD)
  • Corrective Services Act 2006 (QLD)
  • Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (QLD)
  • Youth Justice Act 1992 (QLD)

The amendments aim to reverse the statutory presumption in favour of bail for adult or child offenders who have been previously convicted of a terrorist offence or subject to a control order under the Commonwealth Criminal Code. The power to grant bail in such situations will be exercised by a court, and the offender in question will be required to satisfy the court that there are exceptional circumstances that justify the granting of bail in that scenario.  This change applies to children as well. Additionally, the presumption in favour of bail is reversed for those persons about whom the commissioner of police provides a report to the parole board identifying that that person has a reasonable likelihood of re-offending.

The explanatory notes for the Bill emphasise that the proposed amendments are not setting out to create a new norm in relation to the presumption of bail, and reflect the unique circumstances related to terrorist threats, finding that there are no alternative ways of achieving policy objectives.

In her second reading speech, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath confirmed that the Bill aimed to implement the commitment of COAG in Queensland:

‘The bill will implement the agreement of the Council of Australian Governments to ensure that there will be a presumption that neither bail nor parole will be granted to those persons who have demonstrated support for, or have links to, terrorist activity—underpinned by nationally consistent principles to ensure there is a presumption against bail and parole in agreed circumstances across Australia. These reforms recognise that the evolving threat posed by terrorism is not constrained by our state borders and that a national response is required.’

She commented on the departure from conventional norms of the presumption of bail, noting that the measures in the Bill are extraordinary measures designed to respond to a specific context:

‘While the threat of terrorism is to be taken seriously, Queensland does remain a safe place to live and work. In passing laws we are mindful to support this safe environment and to ensure that our response is not disproportionate to the threat faced. The measures in the bill, while extraordinary, recognise that there should be a higher bar for the release of individuals who pose a higher risk to the safety of the community, whether that release be through bail or parole. The passing of these amendments is an essential component to ensure the safety of Queenslanders and, through the provision of nationally consistent laws, the safety of all Australians.’

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

Justice Legislation (Links to Terrorist Activity) Amendment Bill 2018 (QLD), second reading speech and explanatory memorandum, as published on TimeBase LawOne.

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