The Palaszczuk Government has delivered on its COAG commitment to introduce stricter legislation against convicted terrorists and people with links to terrorist activity.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the legislation followed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s agreement at a COAG meeting last year to ensure there would be a presumption that bail and parole would not be granted to those persons who have demonstrated support for, or have links to, terrorist activity.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to the safety of Queenslanders, whether that means mitigating future threats or responding to current threats,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“The recent tragic event in Melbourne has hit home for many people across Queensland and I offer my sincere condolences to the many friends and family who have been impacted.
“But it is important to note that the national threat level remains at ‘probable’ and this legislation is not in response to any particular incident.
“We know that the most effective defence against terrorism is preventing radicalisation and the progression to violent extremism.
“I commend the efforts in pursuing this goal through work of the agencies including the Queensland Police Service, Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Commission, other government agencies and community-based organisations.”
The Justice Legislation (Links to Terrorist Activity) Amendment Bill 2018 will reverse the statutory presumption for bail for those who are either convicted of a terrorism offence or are currently or have been subject to a control order under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, no matter what they have been charged with.
“Queenslanders have a right to go about their lives in safety, which is what this Bill is all about,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“Not only does it reverse the presumption for bail, but it also allows for sentencing courts to fix a parole eligibility date rather than a parole release date for people who fall into this category.”
Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan said the Bill creates a presumption against parole for prisoners who have either previously been charged with or convicted of a terrorism offence, or are the subject of a control order, or associated with a terrorist organisation or with a person who has promoted terrorism.
“This Bill will apply to a relatively small number of prisoners in Queensland jails in the short term, but it’s important to be prepared for possibilities in the future,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is building on its commitment to Queenslanders’ safety with the introduction of this Bill.
“The State Budget includes 85 new counter terrorism specialists across Queensland over the next four years and the construction of the $46.7 million Counter Terrorism and Community Safety Centre project at the Westgate Complex in Wacol is well underway.”
Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Martin has been involved in countering violent extremism on the international stage for more than a decade.
He said this legislation was a sensible and appropriate response to increase public safety.
“Prisoners charged with terrorism related offences or identified as holding violent extremist beliefs are a small minority of prisoners, however QCS is keenly aware of the need to proactively manage these individuals,” Commissioner Martin said.
“We work to counter violent extremism in collaboration with various law enforcement and national security agencies, make use of contemporary international research, and proactively train staff to identify and manage signs of violent extremism.
“I cannot overstate the importance of this legislation in providing society with the ability to closely manage those who would cause harm to society.”