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Tough youth justice reforms cause spat

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Queensland's youth justice reforms, due to be introduced into parliament this week, will be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.

The proposed legislation has caught the attention of civil libertarians and human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, with the chief concern being that the laws remove detention as a last resort, which contravenes major human rights standards.

Opponents of the proposed laws, which include sending children to adult prisons if they have more than six months on their sentence when they turn 17 and allowing the 'naming and shaming' of repeat juvenile offenders, have written to the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights requesting the UN intervene.

But Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, who spent a lot of last year speaking about youth justice issues and promising tough action, said the legislation consisted of “tough, but necessary and fair” reforms, needed to help “put...these people on the right path, getting a job and an education”.

“They have been fully consulted on, across Queensland,” Mr Bleijie said.

“We had more than 4200 responses to the youth survey and I am looking forward to introducing these reforms so we can finally turn the tide on juvenile justice issues and crime in Queensland.”


One LNP MP who needs no convincing is the Member for Cairns, Gavin King.

Mr King released a response to the letter the Australian director of Amnesty International, Claire Mallinson wrote to the Premier last week, accusing Ms Mallinson of not understanding communities like his electorate.

“While I'm sure it feels warm and fuzzy to be able to pontificate from the air-conditioned offices of Amnesty International in a capital city far, far away, the comments by Claire Mallinson are an insult to many communities across regional Queensland,” Mr King said in his February 2 missive.

“Ms Mallinson's comments are a slap in the face for the thousands of victims, police, small business owners and the broader community who have put up with the damaging impact of youth crime for too long,” he said.

Mr King said the government was working to “swing the pendulum back” in favour of victims, as well as developing programs, such as a flexible learning school for disengaged youth, on top of the boot camp reforms already in place.

“....I personally invite Ms Mallinson to step out of her ivory tower and jump on a plane to Cairns, where I can introduce her to countless victims of youth crime. Their perspectives on this issue should be heard and respected, rather than solely relying on international conventions dreamed up in European hamlets or academic reports from university professors,” Mr King said.

Mr Bleijie is expected to introduce the legislation to parliament on Tuesday. It will be sent to a parliamentary committee for review, but the government has no obligation to consider any of the committee's recommendations.

Once back in front of the House, given the government's majority, the legislation will pass.