Queensland\’s plan to crack down on wild parties branded \’anti-fun\’
By Brad Ryan
Updated 9 hours 14 minutes ago
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A move to crack down on wild parties in Queensland has been criticised as an attack on the right to have fun.
The Police Powers and Responsibilities and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, currently before State Parliament, proposes jail terms and fines of more than $12,000 for the organisers of events that are deemed to be out-of-control.
Take a look at the bill here.
It defines an out-of-control event as a gathering of 12 people or more if three of them interfere with the public by swearing, making excessive noise or being drunk in a public place.
What is an \’out-of-control event\’?
The bill defines it as an event at which 12 or more people are gathered and three or more people do any of the following…
Unlawfully enter property.
Use offensive or threatening language.
Fight or assault another person.
Cause property damage.
An indecent act such as wilful exposure.
Burn-outs in a motor vehicle.
Unlawfully light fires or fireworks.
Throw dangerous objects.
Unreasonably obstruct a person or vehicle.
Litter in a way that could harm a person, property or the environment.
Break liquor or drug laws.
…if the conduct could cause people to fear violence or property damage, or to suffer substantial interference with their rights or peaceful movement in a public place.
But lawyers, youth advocates and civil libertarians say legislation aimed at stopping unruly events will make it a legal risk to hold almost any gathering.
The Queensland Association of Independent Legal Centres describes the proposal as a startling incursion on the rights of ordinary Queenslanders to have fun.
\”There\’s a real danger that Queenslanders will be punished for just spending time with family or engaging in other normal social activities,\” director James Farrell said.
\”Stopping people from having fun isn\’t going to prevent anti-social or violent things from happening.\”
Queensland Law Society president Annette Bradfield has also urged a rethink on the bill.
\”The definitions used are very broad, and it can cover the normal mum and dad holding an 18th birthday party for their child,\” she said.
\”Organisers [of events] could be really quite innocent – parents organising a party for their child and other things happen that cause it to get out-of-control.\”
Brisbane\’s Youth Advocacy Centre, the Caxton Legal Centre and the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties have also criticised the proposal in submissions to a parliamentary committee.
\”Twelve people, I think some of us would feel is a decent dinner-party size,\” the Youth Advocacy Centre\’s Janet Wight said.
The majority have nothing to fear, Police Minister says
Police and Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey says the bill addresses community calls for action to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.
\”This legislation … sends a clear message to those people who want to do the wrong thing, that want to take no responsibility, that want to bring alcoholic violence and property damage into our suburbs that their time is up,\” he said.
Mr Dempsey says party organisers who take reasonable steps to prevent events getting out of control will not be punished.
The majority of people who do the right thing have nothing to fear.
Police Minister Jack Dempsey
The bill provides examples of \”reasonable steps\”. They include hiring security guards and shutting down the event if uninvited guests show up.
\”The majority of people who do the right thing have nothing to fear,\” Mr Dempsey said.
\”We want more Queenslanders out there celebrating and enjoying this great state.
\”They\’re the people that we actually want to protect by this bill.\”
Committee endorses bill, dismisses fears of narrow definition
In a report tabled this week, Parliament\’s legal affairs and community safety committee endorsed the bill.
\”The committee supports the Government\’s commitment to revitalising front line services [of the Queensland Police Service] and providing the QPS with an appropriate scheme to curb the increasing occurrences of out-of-control events,\” the report said.
It dismisses concerns about the definition of an out-of-control event.
\”Narrowing the definition would ultimately exclude behaviour which is typically associated with out-of-control events,\” the committee concluded.
However, it has recommended a review of the legislation within two years of its introduction.
It has also recommended the legislation be amended to clarify the \”reasonable steps\” that could be taken to prevent events getting out of control.
Parliament is expected to vote on the bill early next year.
Parents could be liable for hefty fines or jail
Anyone who organises an event that becomes out-of-control could be fined $12,100 or jailed for a year.
If the event is held at a place the organiser does not have the right to use, the penalties increase to a maximum fine of $18,150 or three years\’ imprisonment.
If a child organises an event with a parent\’s permission and the event becomes out of control, parents could be liable for the penalties.
Organisers of out-of-control events could also be forced to pay the costs of the police response.
An event cannot be deemed out of control if it is at a licensed venue, a protest or strike action, an authorised public assembly under the Peaceful Assembly Act, at a major sports facility under the Major Sports Facilities Act, or prescribed by regulation.