Bleijie displaying 'extreme megalomania'
Civil libertarians say new laws giving the attorney-general power to lock up criminals indefinitely is 'lunacy' from a 'young and inexperienced' man.PT1M57S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2vnom 620 349 October 17, 2013
Fresh from passing the nation’s “toughest bikie laws”, Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie will now alter legislation to bypass the courts to keep the state’s “worst sex offenders in jail” for life.
The amendments are Mr Bleijie’s “plan B” to keep sex offenders like Robert John Fardon imprisoned if their appeals against their release orders fail.
The changes will mean that once the usual appeals process has been exhausted Mr Bleijie will be able to step in and recommend the offender be detained under a “public interest declaration”.
The Governor in Council, which is made up of the state’s Governor and the most senior cabinet members, will then determine if the Attorney-General has a case.
If they tick off on the recommendation there is nothing the courts can do.
Mr Bleijie said the “public interest declaration will remain in place” until the Governor in Council “decides to lift it”.
“Its rulings are final and conclusive and cannot be reviewed other than for jurisdictional error by the Supreme Court,” he said.
“The decision to make these amendments was made following careful consideration with community safety in the forefront of our minds.”
Mr Bleijie said the laws would be used “very rarely” and only in extreme cases – such as Fardon.
The state has been fighting to keep Fardon, the first offender to be named under the 2003 Dangerous Offender legislation and thereby subjected to indefinite imprisonment, in jail for the better part of three years.
Fardon is entitled to annual reviews of his case. A court has ruled he be released on a supervision order. The government has appealed but a decision is not expected to be handed down until next month.
The government hopes to have its amended legislation in place by then, so Mr Bleijie will have an avenue, or as he has called it, a “plan B” to keep Fardon in prison.
But the government will not be able to throw away the key - offenders subject to a public interest declaration will be examined annually by two psychiatrists, reporting back to the Attorney-General on their risk of re-offending. The offender will also be able to make a submission to the minister for their release.
The opposition said the amendments were another good reason Mr Bleijie “should not continue as the state’s chief law officer”.
“Mr Bleijie’ s latest plan to set himself up as judge and jury on dangerous sex offenders and bypass the judiciary is simply unacceptable,” Annastacia Palszczuk said.
“Mr Bleijie has to decide if he wants to be Attorney-General or Judge Judy.
“What he is proposing is worse than some of the decisions of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen government.”
Child protection advocate Hetty Johnston gave qualified backing to the attorney general’s plan.
The Bravehearts founder said the current system was failing to protect children and she supports any laws that put victims’ rights first.
‘‘This is a clear signal that existing legislation is not working and not doing what the community expects it to do,’’ she said.
‘‘Each time there is an appeal it’s an incredible burden on the victims who are living with trauma, while the taxpayer repeatedly cops the bill.’’
The Queensland Law Society has been approached for comment.
Mr Bleijie will introduce amendments to the legislation which deals with these powers in Parliament during Wednesday’s afternoon session.