Fiery debate over youth justice reforms rages in Queensland parliament

The Palaszczuk government’s plan to rush tough youth bail laws through parliament this week has led to fierce debate and infuriated the opposition who say the reforms are ignoring the main issue of the supposed crisis.

There’s been widespread community outrage following the spate of tragic deaths on Queensland roads this year linked to juvenile crimes, and the hot topic dominated the first question time of the year.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said the new reforms will allow authorities to slap GPS tracking devices on repeat youth offenders and toughen bail conditions.

The sweeping changes were revealed earlier in the month, with legislation scheduled to be introduced in parliament on Wednesday or Thursday, following the horrific deaths of a pregnant couple who were struck and killed by an alleged stolen LandCruiser while walking their dogs in January.

But Opposition Leader David Crisafulli insists he won’t support the changes unless the breach of bail offence is reintroduced.

“The government has said some of the things that it wants to take forward,” he said on Monday.

“We believe that it falls short, particularly in the area of breaching bail, and we won’t be giving an inch on that.”

The Palaszczuk government on Tuesday morning was continually peppered during a heated question time over the issue, but Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard slammed the breaching bail sticking point as misinformed.

Included in the government’s legislation is a removal of the presumption of bail for offenders committing serious offences as well as making committing a crime while on bail an aggravating circumstance, meaning the juvenile will face a more severe penalty if the crime is committed while they are out on bail.

“Both of these are far stronger options than establishing a separate offence of breach of bail, which in previous iterations has proved unworkable and didn’t result in a harsher penalty for the offender,” Ms Linard told parliament.

She said breach of bail was only used on 185 young juveniles when it was enshrined in law, with more than 90 per cent of these going on to reoffend in the next 12 months.

“All we have heard from the policy vacuum opposite in regards to youth justice is boot camps, which failed, and breach of bail, which was not used,” the Youth Justice Minister said.

“The offence of offending on bail carried with it no actual punishment — it applied to a very small number of young people and had no appreciable impact on offending and reoffending.

“It didn’t work in 2014, it didn’t work in 2013, and it’s not going to work now.”

Ms Palaszczuk enlisted Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon to take charge of a youth crime taskforce, which will focus on the 10 per cent of repeat youth offenders who police fear have zero regard for consequences.

The government will adopt a plea from the Queensland Police Union, which wantsthis group of about 400 offenders slapped with GPS tracking anklets.

This measure will be implemented in a new trial and used in Morton, North Brisbane, Townsville, Logan and the Gold Coast for 16 to 17-year-olds as part of bail conditions.

The presumption of bail will also be removed for serious indictable offences such as breaking and entering, serious sexual assault and armed robbery.

“The courts will be empowered to require repeated offenders to give reasons why they should have bail instead of requiring prosecutors to prove why they should not,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Where courts can seek assurances from them that the offender will adhere to the bail conditions or bail will not be granted.”


  • Require fitting of electronic monitoring devices (GPS trackers): As a condition of bail for recidivist high risk offenders aged 16 and 17
  • Create a presumption against bail: For youth offenders arrested for committing further serious indictable offences (such as breaking and entering, serious sexual assault and armed robbery) while on bail
  • Seek assurances from parents and guardians that bail conditions will be complied with before an offender is released
  • Strengthen existing bail laws: The Youth Justice Act will be amended to include a reference to the community being protected from recidivist youth offenders in the Charter of Youth Justice Principles

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