Proctor : July 2018
10 PROCTOR | July 2018 On 12 June the Queensland Government handed down its 2018-19 State Budget, including a handful of allocations in the justice arena. Queensland Law Society president Ken Taylor shared these key items via Facebook Live, noting that not all the profession’s areas of concern were addressed. Prior to each election, the Society releases a Call to Parties document compiled from member and committee feedback to the major political parties. Key items from the 2017 state election Call to Parties document included further funding for legal assistance services, court infrastructure upgrades and updated technology, more judicial appointments at all levels, and an electronic document management system in the courts. Two other highlighted areas of concern for the profession were addressing elder abuse as well as domestic and family violence. Mr Taylor said he was pleased to see a Federal Government commitment of $22 million for elder abuse initiatives in its Budget and had hoped to see a similar commitment from the State Government. However, no new commitments were made on elder abuse in the State Budget, although funding allocated for domestic and family violence initiatives was welcome. Inclusions in the 2018-19 Queensland State Budget for the justice system include: • $5 million for 30 staff in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and funding for 44 additional staff at the Director of Child Protection Litigation • $10 million to respond to increased workload in the administration of the Queensland Courts • an $8.1 million funding boost over four years to expand the specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court in Townsville, including the circuit court in Palm Island and Mt Isa • funding for the Office of the Public Guardian and Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal to meet increased workloads associated with the NDIS rollout • funding to continue the work of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council and increased financial support to victims of crime • $7.2 million over the next three years to implement a new blue card system and streamline the application process to further protect Queensland children • funding for the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to support the operation and administration of the Human Rights Act for Queensland • funding to continue the Murri Courts for four years, as well as funding to extend Court Link to Southport, Mount Isa and Ipswich • $41 million in additional funding to provide a further 84 cells at the Capricornia Correctional Centre • $10.6 million for additional positions at two Queensland youth detention centres, as well as funding for services and initiatives to reduce the remand of children and young people in custody • Cleveland Youth Detention Centre to receive 12 new beds and existing work to provide 16 new beds at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre • funding for behavioural programs for domestic violence perpetrators, as well as funding to support children and young people in care with complex behaviours • additional staff in the Office of the Child and Family Solicitor to provide advice to child safety workers on child protection matters • funding for the expansion of the Supreme Court bail application service to male prisoners as well as funding for the expansion of parole and probation services • improved service delivery for prisoners with a disability or mental illness • a final $6.9 million in funding for recommissioning of the Borallon Training and Correctional Centre • funding for 400 additional police officers across the state and 85 counter-terrorism specialists • funding for the delivery of recording and transcription services in the Queensland Courts • $2.5 million for additional review officers at the Office of the Information Commissioner • $1 million over three years to engage with the community on how traditional Torres Strait Islander child-rearing practices can be recognised in law • motor vehicle duty increasing by 2% on vehicle transfers above $100,000 • establishment of a Queensland artificial intelligence hub at the Precinct in Fortitude Valley to develop skills and encourage the use of AI in business • an extension of the 50% payroll tax, rebate to June 2019 for apprentices and trainees’ wages • land tax to increase 0.5% for landholdings with a taxable value above $10 million • Foreign Acquirer Duty to increase to 7% for land acquisitions. Mr Taylor said that he appreciated the Government’s commitment to justice initiatives and ongoing support of the system in Queensland, but looked forward to seeing further commitments in the future. He noted that there would be more police officers and more places to put offenders, but as yet no extra funding to put them through the court system. Mr Taylor said that the justice system was nothing without a solid court system with adequate resourcing. He said the absence of a commitment to increased judicial resourcing would add to the bottleneck in processing matters through the courts and housing accused criminals refused bail pending completion of their matters. It was appropriate that government spending on justice had increased, but more needs to be done in areas such as funding to ensure access to justice for all Queenslanders, more judicial appointments, and for new initiatives in the area of domestic and family violence and elder abuse. See qls.com.au/qldbudget. News Budget initiatives welcomed, but more needed Judges, legal professionals honoured Several members of the legal community were honoured last month with recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. President of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Justice Martin Daubney, recently retired Townsville District Court judge the Honourable Stuart Durward SC, Judge Michael Shanahan of the District Court and Judge Josephine Willis of the Federal Circuit Court were appointed Members of the Order of Australia. Queensland Law Society member Terence Newman of Newman Family Law, Cairns, was a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to youth and to the law, as was solicitor and academic Iyla Davies for service to education. QLS congratulates the Queensland legal professionals recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.