KAP: Have your say on new youth justice reforms before it’s too late
23 February 2023
Katter’s Australian Party MPs have accused Labor of trying to “whitewash” the community consultation process relating to the Government’s proposed youth justice laws.
Earlier this week the State Labor Government introduced new youth crime legislation into the Parliament and provided the public only three days’ notice to provide feedback and submissions in a move that KAP is concerned is a deliberate tactic to deprive Queenslanders and victims of crime an opportunity to be fully heard.
The Youth Justice bill, formally known as the Strengthening Community Safety Bill 2023, was introduced on Tuesday the 21st of February and submissions on the draft legislation close at 12pm this Friday, 24 February 2023.
The region’s youth crime hot spots, including Townsville, Mount Isa and Cairns, have been excluded with only one public hearing to be held in Brisbane on Monday, the 27th of February 2023.
KAP Leader and Traeger MP, Robbie Katter, said that the Government needed to stop treating the youth crime crisis as a “political” problem.
“It’s good to see there is a Bill before the House but KAP is deeply concerned that the Government is still wildly off the mark as to what’s needed in order to deal with this problem,” he said.
“For five years we have been saying that a model of alternative sentencing is what’s needed here – this needs to be offering the kids something that’s a real consequence up front but also has better rehabilitation conditions and outcomes when compared to the current juvenile detention settings.
“Cleveland Youth Detention Centre in Townsville has a re-offending rate of 95 per cent and the Government’s solution is to go and build another two centres that are the same.
“We say this isn’t good enough, we can build alternative building units out in remote areas that are both an effective rehabilitate and punitive measure.”
Hill MP, Shane Knuth said the Government will hold up bills that take real action on issues, such as the KAP’s Blue Card and Safer Waterways Bill, citing the need for a proper consultation process, but then rush through an important bill in less than 3 weeks, with minimal opportunity for any community consultation.
“I know many Queenslanders were expecting public forums across the state, however the Government are only hosting a single public briefing on Monday, where it will most likely be a repeat of the recently failed attempt at “consultation” in Toowoomba which was described by attendees as a lecture.
“It’s disingenuous and completely ignores public expectations on what action they want to see on youth crime.”
KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP, Nick Dametto, said proper and genuine consultation with stakeholders would have provided invaluable input on the draft legislation.
“Expediating this process in the name of emergency legislation seems convenient to the Palaszczuk Government. They have had plenty of time to act on youth crime and consult, instead they have chosen to once again ram through what they think is best for Queenslanders.
“To restrict community input on such vital legislation sends a clear message to the community that their views don’t matter.
“Queensland’s peak legal body has been critical of the Government for some time regarding the short consultation periods whereby stakeholders can provide input on important legislative change.”
Mr Dametto said that KAP intends to introduce amendments to the bill that are based on the views of the community across North Queensland which has long been the epicentre of youth crime.
KAPs amendments will include:
- Removal of detention as a last resort;
- Mandatory minimum sentencing for particular offences (unlawful use of motor vehicle, burglary, break and enter);
- A presumption that child offenders be tried as adults for particular offences; and
- An alternative sentencing model (Relocation Sentencing).