Queensland Parliament last night voted down a Bill to raise the criminal age of responsibility from 10 to 14.
A private member’s Bill proposed by Greens MP Michael Berkman was defeated during a vote in Parliament – garnering only the support of Independent Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton.
The Bill – which received universal support from the Human Rights and Family and Child Commissions, youth and community advocacy groups, Queensland Law Society and Bar Association of Queensland – was voted down almost unanimously.
The Labor, Liberal National, One Nation and Katter’s Australian parties all voted against the Bill.
The decision comes six months after the Queensland Community and Support Services Committee invited stakeholders to make oral submissions to the proposed changes to Criminal Law (Raising the Age of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2021.
Currently, the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is 10 across all Australian jurisdictions.
QLS threw its support behind the proposed Bill amendments, saying current data and evidence demonstrated it was rare for children aged 10 to 14 to commit serious or violent offences.
In March, the committee tabled a report rejecting the Bill, recommending instead a continued national approach to increase the age from 10 to 12. It recommended that Parliament not pass laws proposed by Mr Berkman.
Amid the five recommendations in the report supported by three Labor and two LNP committee members was that Queensland work with all state and territory Attorneys-General to consider an increase in the MACR from 10 to 12.
The only dissenting voice in the report was Mr Berkman – who welcomed some recommendations regarding training, residential care and court setting – but slammed the committee’s failure to recommend a rise in the MACR.
The failed Bill comes three weeks after the Law Council of Australia renewed its push for federal laws to raise the MACR to 14.
Law Council President Tass Liveris said it was time for all Australian governments to raise the MACR to at least 14 without further delay.
“According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there were nearly 450 children aged between 10 and 13 in detention in 2020-21,” Mr Liveris said. “Since the Working Group Report was presented to the Attorneys-General, hundreds of children under the age of 14 have been locked up and thousands more have come into contact with the criminal justice system.”