New youth justice laws pass in Queensland

·2-min read

Queensland has passed 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.

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

The head of the Youth Justice Task Force said watch-house staff in Townsville had already been trained to fit and remove tracking devices.

Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Scanlon said staff would be ready to go if a young offender was deemed to be an appropriate candidate.

The Greens slammed the laws as a knee-jerk reaction to a problem and called it a Labor-Liberal National Party unity ticket for "locking children up".

Greens MP Michael Berkman said the government should instead be funding culturally appropriate wraparound services for children.

"It is a shameful bill that will do absolutely nothing to improve community safety," he told parliament on Thursday.

"I condemn the government for its spineless attack on the most vulnerable in our society."

Labor MP Jonty Bush said while the government was working to address the social root causes of youth crime, the community had a right to safety.

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

The opposition Liberal National Party 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 would 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."

Ms 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.

Youth crime has become highly charged in Queensland following the deaths of pedestrians Kate Leadbetter, who was pregnant, and her partner Matt Field.

The couple were 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.