The Guardian August 16, 2000


New Queensland laws suppress human rights

It's "Clayton's" mandatory sentencing! Under the Queensland Labor 
Government's proposed new legislation, the Corrective Services Bill 2000, 
the role of judges and magistrates in determining appropriate sentencing 
will be severely limited, and the right of the press to report on the 
imprisonment of Aboriginal people is to be eliminated.

The legislation, which embodies the worst aspects of the Western Australian 
and Northern Territory mandatory sentencing regimes and the Federal 
Government's illegal immigrant's policies, allows for prisoners to be 
released from prison without rehabilitation or support.

Mr Ian Delaney, State Coordinator of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander 
Legal Services Secretariat (QAILLS) commented: "Queenslanders will end up 
paying more taxes to build prisons, and ... run the prisons. Perhaps even 
worse, prisoners will be released into the suburbs without proper 
rehabilitation having been provided, and no help to stop their re-offending 
behaviour, thereby exposing the community to greater risk."

The legislation would also strip magistrates and judges of the power to 
determine appropriate sentencing for those charged with offences incurring 
penalties of less than two years imprisonment.

Mr Delaney stated: "With the power of judges and magistrates taken away in 
this fashion, what you are left with is a situation tantamount to another 
form of mandatory sentencing."

He added that the timing of the legislation, to coincide with the Olympics, 
was not a coincidence.

Yes, it's mandatory sentencing in all but name  and with restrictions on 
press freedom thrown in.

Newspapers reporting Aboriginal rates of incarceration and matters relating 
to imprisonment of Aboriginal people (for example, deaths in custody) are 
to be prosecuted under the new laws.

This obviously has major implications for the administration of law in 
Australia, because if Australian governments succeed in suppressing 
comments regarding Aboriginal imprisonment, it's just a matter of time 
before they attempt to suppress criticism of any sort.

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