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QLS raises concerns about amendments

Queensland Law Society (QLS) representatives raised several concerns regarding the Crime and Corruption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 at yesterday’s public hearing before the Community Safety and Legal Affairs Parliamentary Committee.

QLS President Rebecca Fogerty, Criminal Law Committee Chair Dominic Brunello and Senior Policy Solicitor Bridget Cook appeared at the public hearing.

In the President’s opening statements, she noted there had been “a very short period for consultation for what were difficult statutory provisions” since the Bill was introduced to Parliament on 15 February 2024.

“Our written submission raised concerns with the continued abrogation of individual rights and privileges, such as legal professional privilege, and the privilege against self-incrimination,” Rebecca said.

“To clarify these reflect our long-standing opposition to the abrogation of these principles. We acknowledge that this Bill is an attempt to clarify and redraft powers that are already in existence and does not substantively amend the current statutory principles.

“We are generally supportive of the cautious approach taken in respect of the proposed Section 197. Our main concerns with the Bill relate to the circumstances in which the CCC may commence proceedings without getting the prior advice from the Director’s (DPP’s) office, and the circumstances in which warrants and search and entry powers may be exercised.”

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When a committee member asked about concerns around changes to the warrant process and if it would give an individual “too much power”, Dominic emphasised the legislation gave “a broad-ranging discretion to issue warrants”.

“The customary process … to enter, search and seize is some material be put before an independent functionary … for some base level of suspicion is met … to justify the incursion on the privacy of the place or person to be searched,” he said.

“This is a check and balance, it is a safeguard against use of power like that without proper grounds. We concede that this power is pre-existing.

“It nevertheless creates a risk that the authority will be given, without some oversight, and part of the impetus behind this Bill is some increased oversight by entities independent of the Commission before it acts in a way that can cause harm.”

QLS also flagged an issue with seconded police officers while supporting the extension of journalist shield laws to CCC matters.

View the QLS submission.

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