Qld govt votes down changes to youth laws

·3-min read

Queensland parliament has voted down a motion by the Greens regarding the use of GPS monitoring devices for youth offenders, after only one was fitted since the controversial trial began in May.

Greens MP Michael Berkman's disallowance motion was supported by fellow member Amy McMahon, but voted against by 86 parliamentary members on Tuesday evening.

The Greens were pushing to disallow the regulation which stipulated 16 and 17 year olds in specific local government areas to be fitted with a GPS monitoring device.

Since the measure was legalised in Queensland, only four devices have been attempted to be fitted, with one done successfully.

The devices have also only been used on Indigenous youth and recidivist offenders throughout the state.

In May, Queensland magistrates were granted rights to issue these devices to repeat offenders aged 16 and 17 as a condition of bail across the LGA's of Townsville, North Brisbane, Moreton, Logan and the Gold Coast.

To be fitted, teens must be charged with a serious offence and have previously been convicted of a serious offence.

Mr Berkman said the trial was a baseless and politically motivated attack on vulnerable kids and a failure by the state government's own measures.

"Surely the fever dream has now subsided and the government can see how ridiculous and inhumane it was to suggest we slap an ankle bracelet on children still young enough to be in school," he said.

The member for Maiwar added that experts say the devices are another way into the criminal justice system, instead of an avenue out and children would be less able to comply with bail conditions due to their lower maturity and cognitive development.

But police minister Mark Ryan was strongly opposed to the comments, calling out the move as "headline chasing."

"The position of the Greens is that they would prefer those young people in custody, rather than out with strict supervision with parents and carers and other supports and engaging in services," he said.

Mr Ryan also echoed the firm stance of the Labor government indicating a group of 400 "hardcore recidivist" offenders are the one's being targeted.

"We've been very sensible about how we brought this trial in," he added.

"We've been very measured, we've ensured that there is significant wraparound services, conditional bail programs, boosted resources in the Department of Youth Justice and the Queensland Police Service to ensure that we have a responsible supervision regime around those young people."

In accordance with the police minister's comments, member for Thurwingowa Aaron Harper says he's witnessed first hand the damage youth offending has caused to his community in Townsville.

"The government's targeting the serious recidivist offenders with the strongest laws in the nation, because it's about community safety," Mr Harper said.

"The presumption against bail is a key element of the government's reforms.

Across the floor, shadow police minister Dale Last backed the trial and laws but said the government had failed again on the issue of youth crime.

"Now is not the time to let up on the fight against youth crime. If anything, now's the time to actually make a difference and ramp it up because using this government's own figures and responses, we are losing the battle to make our community safe."

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