New laws aimed squarely at the 400 young delinquents holding Queensland hostage

Queensland is set to pass laws allowing courts to fit teen offenders with GPS trackers and remove the presumption of bail for those caught committing serious offences while on bail.

Apr 22, 2021, updated Apr 22, 2021
 Brisbane couple Kate Leadbetter and Matt Field, whose death cast a spotlight on juvenile repeat offenders. (AAP Image/Supplied by Family)

Brisbane couple Kate Leadbetter and Matt Field, whose death cast a spotlight on juvenile repeat offenders. (AAP Image/Supplied by Family)

The controversial laws, which are being debated in state parliament, are set to pass on Thursday night.

They target about 400 repeat offenders, most of whom are Indigenous, allegedly responsible for almost half of all youth crime in the state.

The issue became highly charged following the deaths of pedestrians Kate Leadbetter, who was pregnant, and her partner Matt Field.

The couple was struck by an allegedly stolen car driven by a teenager in Alexandra Hills on January 26.

Calls for reform increased with the death of 22-year-old motorcyclist Jennifer Board at Thuringowa on February 5.

She was hit by a Holden Statesman following a stolen Hyundai sedan during an alleged vigilante pursuit.

Labor MP Jonty Bush says while the government is working to address the social causes of youth crime, such as poverty, the community has a right to safety.

This was the key message heard by parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee during recent public hearings across the state.

“However, some people were understandably frightened, having experienced personal occurrences of break and enters, hold-ups or dangerous hooning,” she told parliament on Wednesday.

Greens MP Michael Berkman, a vocal critic of the proposed laws, is due to speak against the laws in parliament on Thursday.

He’s previously accused the government of focusing too much on treating the symptoms rather than addressing the social causes of youth crime.

The opposition Liberal National Party has unsuccessfully tried to move an amendment to laws that would make it an offence to breach bail conditions.

Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said the problems will continue unless recidivist youth offenders face the consequences.

“Everybody deserves a second chance, but that is not what we are discussing today,” he told parliament.

“We are discussing a system that allows people multiple chances, in some cases 20 chances.

“The amendment that the opposition seeks to put forward ensures that those people who are given the opportunity to be out on bail can be held accountable for their actions.”

Bush said creating a breach of bail offence, which was advocated by some at the public hearings, wasn’t based on evidence and would not be an effective policy.

A breach of bail had never been an offence under the previous LNP government.

“The fact is that the Newman LNP government introduced an unworkable law called committing an offence while on bail,” Bush told parliament.

“This law did not work as a deterrent and was not regularly used by the courts given it was so ineffective.”

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