Queensland Law Society made 39 policy submissions in January and February, and appeared at six public hearings at Queensland Parliament, advocating for good law and the public good.
Following our written submission, QLS appeared at the public hearing on the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, represented by President Luke Murphy, QLS Criminal Law Committee Deputy Chair Ken Mackenzie and QLS Litigation Rules Committee chair Andrew Shute.
The omnibus Bill aims to amend 33 Acts and four regulations. We advocated for the right to maintain a claim for privilege against selfincrimination at an inquest, in circumstances where the proposed amendment to the Coroners Act 2003 would also have retrospective application.
QLS also highlighted that:
- broadening the scope of ‘Restricted premises orders’ in the proposed changes to the Peace and Good Behaviour Act 1982 may have unintended consequences
- ambiguity in amendments to the Civil Proceedings Act 2009 would cause delays and increased costs in proceedings, and should be rectified
- the proposal to increase, to $80,000, the value of property offences which must be determined summarily in the Magistrates Court may impact on the accused’s ability to access legal assistance and put further pressure on existing court and other resources.
QLS also attended the public hearing on the Community Services Industry (Portable Long Service Leave) Bill 2019 following our written submission to the inquiry. QLS was represented by President Luke Murphy, Industrial Law Committee member Aaron Santelises and QLS Senior Policy Solicitor Kate Brodnik.
The Bill seeks to establish a Portable Long Service Leave (PLSL) scheme for the community services industry in Queensland. QLS generally supported the Bill, but made several recommendations to clarify certain key definitions and also questioned the wide powers of entry introduced by the Bill.
QLS provided a written submission and appeared at the public hearing on the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, represented by President Luke Murphy, QLS Criminal Law Committee Deputy Chair Ken Mackenzie and QLS Occupational Discipline Law Committee Deputy Chair Andrew Forbes.
The Bill seeks to introduce a range of reforms to the health sector, including prohibiting the practice of conversion therapy by health service providers in Queensland.
QLS agrees that conversion therapy is a reprehensible practice and strongly supported the policy intent behind the Bill, but raised concerns with the proposed definition of ‘conversion therapy’ in the Bill. If interpreted too broadly, the definition may impede legitimate therapeutic and evidence based practices.
This concern was shared by the Australian Medical Association Queensland and the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Queensland Branch. QLS welcomes the committee report which acknowledges these concerns and recommends amendments to the Bill to ensure greater clarity and certainty in the law for health practitioners.
We also made a submission and attended the public hearing on the Associations Incorporation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, which seeks to clarify the operation of the Associated Incorporations Act 1981 and improve the internal governance of incorporated associations.
In our submission, and at the public hearing, we welcomed many of the
reforms but also called for a longer and more extensive consultation process before the Bill is passed. QLS highlighted the significant impact these reforms will have on the day-to-day operations of community groups, many of which are run by volunteers and called for a two-year transitional period. We also raised concerns with respect to the powers of entry introduced, under which authorised officers may enter and inspect an association’s premises without a warrant.
As outlined in the President’s column in the March edition of Proctor, QLS also appeared at the public hearing on the Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2019, represented by President Luke Murphy, QLS Occupational Discipline Law Committee chair Calvin Gnech and Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, a member of the QLS Not for Profit Law Committee.
We raised concerns about the impact of the Bill on “third parties”, including not-for-profit and charity organisations, and the potential inclusion of strict liability offences which would criminalise administrative oversights.
QLS is pleased that the parliamentary committee report on the Bill has recommended amendments be made to “…address the concerns of small, not-for-profit third party organisations regarding the regulatory burden of the political donation and electoral expenditure cap schemes, such as by increasing the threshold for third party registration”.
This would address some of the concerns raised by QLS and other not-for-profit entities. It was also positive that the committee decided not to progress the strict liability offence proposal.
QLS thanks the many dedicated volunteers on the QLS policy committees for their valuable assistance with our submissions and hearings. Copies of QLS submissions are available on the QLS website.
If you would like to learn more about becoming involved with the legal policy work at QLS, keep an eye out for the weekly QLS Update, in which we regularly seek member feedback on our legal policy work.
This story was originally published in Proctor April 2020.