The Queensland Government’s proposed changes to its land clearing laws were unjust and comparable to the Newman LNP Government’s stance on anti-bikie laws, according to the Queensland Law Society.
Society president Bill Potts said the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s planned changes of its Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, introduced by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, were unjustified and a step backwards for justice in the state.
“Queensland Law Society has a long-standing commitment to evidence-based policy, and there is simply no evidence to support the radical changes to prosecution,” said Mr Potts.
Mr Potts’ comments came ahead of his scheduled hearing before the Parliamentary Agriculture and Environment Committee in Brisbane on Friday afternoon.
He said the proposed bill reversed the onus of proof to require landowners to prove their innocence and eliminated the defence of mistake and applied the changes retrospectively.
“The government’s justification for these changes is, quite frankly, feeble and is based on administrative convenience,” he said.
Mr Potts said it was ironic that the government was proposing such changes given that the recent VLAD taskforce report criticised similar provisions in the bikie legislation.
“We have just had a taskforce tell the government how unjust it is to remove the presumption of innocence – a right enshrined in law for all Queenslanders — and strip away valid defences,” he said.
“We shouldn’t need to go through all that again.
“Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; I think there might be a lesson in that.”
Mr Potts added QLS fully supports people who commit acts of serious environmental harm being prosecuted with the full force of the law.
Source: Queensland Law Society