EXTRACT FROM HANSARD -TUESDAY 21 MARCH, 2017
Mr ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (4.53 pm): I rise this afternoon to speak about the proposed Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2016 and how essential it is for this and indeed all legislation to reflect current community standards and expectations, remove prejudice and discrimination, and include watertight provisions for police and the judiciary to enforce and uphold the law and to make the people—all people—in our community safe as they move around doing their business and having some fun and relaxation wherever it is that they may go.
I welcome the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2016 and the reassurance that it will give to many members of the LGBTI community who live in my electorate of Noosa. This bill builds upon laws previously introduced by the LNP known as the ‘gay panic laws’, laws which spoke to homophobia and removed the claim of unwanted sexual advance as a defence for murder.
Domestic violence is another important area of law that will be debated in the parliament this week. While I will speak directly to those bills, I caution that victims of domestic violence and child sexual abuse must be adequately protected by this bill. As pointed out by the Queensland Law Society in response to this bill, should a victim of these violent crimes accidentally kill their perpetrator, a defence of unwanted sexual advance ending in murder must be considered. It is imperative for the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, the Hon. Yvette D’Ath, to specify exclusions to this effect in this bill. As I said, the victims of domestic and family violence must also be protected by this particular piece of legislation.
Criminal law and this bill go a lot further than what most in the House have been talking about today. Criminal law and its effects on communities are also at the heart of this legislation at a time when many are fearful. The need to feel safe in our homes and on our streets has never been more important. Even on the world stage this fear plays out in the push for stronger border controls and tighter immigration policies from all corners of the globe. Right down to small country towns there are people who fear for their safety and their future.
In crude terms, governments look to the latest crime statistics as the barometer of how safe a community is and guides how law enforcement resources are allocated. These figures do not always accurately reflect how safe a community feels. Unfortunately, by the time the crimes have been committed and the stats are collated, the government has already missed the opportunity to ensure the community is safe. Under Labor, crime increased by six per cent across the state. Assaults increased by 12 per cent; car thefts by 10 per cent; and robberies by three per cent. In contrast, when the LNP were in government, reported crime decreased by 12 per cent. The results of an electorate-wide survey I conducted in 2015 revealed the following: 77 per cent of people who live in the Noosa electorate supported tougher measures on criminal motorcycle gangs; 95 per cent supported tougher measures to deal with domestic violence; 84 per cent of survey participants thought that current sentencing standards do not reflect community standards; and so it went on.
As I have said, there are many factors that contribute to the creation of healthy and safe communities—factors that are present before lawlessness takes hold, factors that should sound alarm bells. These include the condition of the local economy, employment, business growth and the provision of adequate infrastructure. These are the cornerstones of healthy and safe communities, the status of which provides the telltale signs of how a community is tracking.
In my electorate of Noosa, mum-and-dad businesses are under threat. Youth unemployment continues to be a great concern. Homelessness and drug and alcohol induced crime are all too prevalent. The two local Police Beats we have in the electorate are understaffed. However, the main thrust of what people have been speaking about today in terms of protection—adequate protection, long overdue protection—for the LGBTI community is something that all members in this House have come together today to support. It is very important that we send out the message that we support the protection of people in this community.
I would like to thank the committee, who spent a lot of time and effort going through the various submissions, and the nine people who made submissions to the committee that have enabled this legislation to come before the House today. I commend the Bill to the House.