Proctor : August 2018
11 PROCTOR | August 2018 Our advocacy year prepared by the QLS Legal Policy team Advocacy August is a time to reflect on the substantial work undertaken by QLS policy committees and the Society over the last financial year. This has included: • more than 200 submissions to public inquiries, state and federal governments and other important stakeholders advocating the QLS position on law reform proposals • attendance by members of our 26 policy committees at 20 state and federal parliamentary hearings to further advance our submissions. QLS thanks the volunteer members who serve on our policy committees, which are integral to the development of policies and responses to legislative amendments and consultation material. Below are some key areas of advocacy by QLS in the last 12 months. Youth Justice and Other Legislation (Inclusion of 17-year- old Persons) Amendment Bill 2016 Until February 2018, Queensland was the only state or territory in Australia to treat 17-year-olds as adults for the purpose of the criminal justice system. QLS, headed by the Children’s Law Committee, undertook a sustained advocacy campaign to have 17-year-olds removed from the adult criminal justice system and reintroduced to the youth justice system. After two decades of advocacy with partners such as the Youth Advocacy Centre and Legal Aid Queensland, a Bill to achieve this was introduced. The passing of the Bill in September 2017, followed by the transitioning of 17-year-olds on adult community-based orders from November, were great successes for QLS and its members. QLS has been at the forefront of educating the legal profession on these historic changes. Guardianship and Administration and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 In its submission and appearance at the public hearing before a parliamentary committee, QLS generally supported the Guardianship and Administration and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, which sought to amend the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000, the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 and the Public Guardian Act 2014. Significant amendments to the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 included the insertion of ‘General principles’, which effectively adopt the recommendations of the Queensland Law Reform Commission report, ‘A Review of Queensland’s Guardianship Laws’, to assist in the protection of persons who require a substitute decision maker (SDM). However, QLS recommended that the Bill go further to ensure that a SDM must take into account other considerations that an application of the general principles may require, in other words, adopt a holistic approach to the application to ensure the person and their rights are protected. The proposed amendments to the Public Guardian Act 2014 sought to extend the ability of the Public Guardian to investigate a complaint or allegations that an adult with impaired capacity was subject to abuse, neglect or exploitation after the death of the adult. The parliamentary committee has recommended that the Bill be passed. QLS will monitor future parliamentary debates. Labour Hire Licensing Scheme The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017, which commenced on 16 April 2018, establishes a mandatory licensing scheme to protect labour hire workers and support responsible labour hire providers. During the Bill’s passage through Parliament, QLS raised a number of concerns about the proposed legislation, including that substantive features of the scheme were not included in the Act. QLS provided examples of workers who could fall within the scheme as a ‘provider of labour hire services’ when this may not be appropriate. Despite the objections, no significant amendments were made to the draft Bill. QLS was, however, invited to comment on consultation papers which formed the basis of the regulation and had the opportunity to re-state its view that genuine secondments should not be captured by the scheme and should be expressly excluded in the regulation. Ultimately, the provisions in the regulation satisfied a number of QLS concerns about how the scheme would operate. Review of property law in Queensland Over the past five years, QLS has responded to a range of issues papers published as part of the review of property laws in Queensland undertaken by the Commercial and Property Law Research Centre at QUT at the request of the Queensland Government. A key recommendation from the review is to introduce a statutory seller disclosure regime in Queensland. The framework would require certain readily available information to be disclosed by way of a prescribed form before the buyer enters into the contract of sale, such as a copy of the title search, information on current zoning and pool certificate information. In May 2018, the final report on the Property Law Act 1974 (PLA) was published, including 232 recommendations designed to simplify, streamline and modernise Queensland’s property legislation. QLS will respond to the recommendations in the final report. Updated REIQ contracts QLS and the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) have prepared new editions of the standard property sale contracts for use by members. These changes are a result of the GST withholding at settlement measures which took effect from 1 July 2018, to facilitate the signing of contracts by electronic means and to update references to legislation and notice clauses. The new editions, as well as comparison tables, are now available for download from qls.com.au . We acknowledge the significant work of the QLS Property and Development Law Committee in this process. Domestic and Family Violence Committee launch The end of the financial year brought with it the launch of the Domestic and Family Violence Committee. The committee will focus on legal and policy issues relating to domestic and family violence throughout Queensland and Australia. QLS established the committee in recognition of the significance of this issue and to continue the work of the former Domestic and Family Violence Working Group, which led the development of the QLS Domestic and Family Violence Best Practice Guidelines. QLS welcomes the new committee and looks forward to working with expert committee members in this important area.