‘Catch and release’ youth bail laws to be repealed LNP vows
CONTROVERSIAL youth bail laws that have been slammed for making it easier for young offenders to escape jail time will be repealed if the LNP win government.
The Townsville Bulletin and Cairns Post can reveal Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has vowed to wind back amendments to the Youth Justice Act, dubbing them "catch and release" laws.
The State Government in December pushed through the changes to Section 48 of the Youth Justice Act, and has claimed it ensures those who pose a serious risk of reoffending will not be released on bail, but lawyers say it's a subsection of that law that has raised the bar when it comes to keeping kids in custody, particularly if the child is under 14 years.
Ms Frecklington, in response to an unprecedented joint campaign by the Townsville Bulletin and the Cairns Post demanding all North Queensland MPs send a message to Brisbane that the region has had enough of the crime crisis, confirmed changing Section 48 would be "one of the first acts of government" if she is premier after the October 31 state election.
"No more cotton gloves, no more slaps on the wrists, there will be jail time and true consequences for criminal activity under the LNP," she said.
"It's time to take back our streets, keep the community safe and teach these repeat young offenders a lesson - enough is enough."
The State Government had been forced to defend the Youth Justice Act amendments after it was revealed an 11-year-old boy in Townsville who was arrested after allegedly attempting to rob a fish and chip shop at knifepoint had been given bail 10 times in four months despite an escalation in his offending.
Burdekin MP Dale Last said some of the offences children were committing were "horrendous" and the LNP's move to scrap the laws would mean kids would be held accountable, even if that meant time behind bars.
The LNP will also reintroduce breach of bail as an offence for young people, though the law that was scrapped when they lost government was not effective the first time around according to Labor, with Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath in 2017 saying fewer than 10 breach of bail cases went before the court when it existed.