I rise to address the Summary Offences and Other
Legislation Amendment Bill 2019. Lawful protests are an integral part of any free and democratic
society. I heard the comments from the Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations, the
member for McConnel. It is absolute scaremongering and they are false and inaccurate comments
when it comes to the Liberal National Party. They are absolutely false. The Liberal National Party has
a very proud record of supporting lawful protests.
In recent times, we have seen the unions protesting out the front. They have been protesting
against the Labor government, with debt reaching $90 billion by 2022-23, seasonally adjusted
unemployment at 6.5 per cent and 178,000 Queenslanders thrown on the scrap heap. That is why they
are protesting against this government. The unions protest against this government because Labor on
that side of the House is always one of debt, tax and unemployment. That is what we are seeing here
in Queensland. That is why the Liberal National Party continues—
Ms Grace interjected.
Dr ROWAN: I hear the minister interjecting over there but that is why the—
Ms JONES: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order on relevance. He is talking about taxes.
We are talking about protests.
Dr ROWAN: I am talking about the unions protesting against—
Honourable members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Whiting): Order! I have a point of order in front of me here and I am
making a ruling. I find that the member is sticking to the subject at this point, but I remind him to stick
to the long title of the bill.
Dr ROWAN: That is why I was talking about protests, because the unions have been protesting
out the front in relation to this government and this government’s failure when it comes to debt, tax and
unemployment here in Queensland. It is a significant issue, so the LNP has been watching with interest
those protests which have been taking place more frequently and they will continue to take place. It is
very relevant to allow them to have their free, democratic right to protest against this government, and
I am sure that will continue to occur as we see debt spiralling out of control, the unemployment rate
going higher and higher—it is 6.5 per cent seasonally adjusted, as I mentioned earlier—178,000
Queenslanders on the scrap heap, and this government having no plan in relation to that.
Australia’s history is littered with famous and infamous protests and protest events which have
gone on to define our nation and our nation’s character. However, unfortunately, as we have seen in
recent times in Queensland, the persistent actions of a small but defined protest group known as
Extinction Rebellion have similarly marked a defining moment not only here in Queensland but also
across Australia. Whilst lawful protests are an integral right within our democratic society, there are
ultimately rules and laws that govern protests and large gatherings to ensure not only the safety of
those involved within those protests but also the safety of the general public at large.
Dr Christian Rowan
MEMBER FOR MOGGILL
Record of Proceedings, 24 October 2019
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The fundamental right to protest must always be matched by equally fundamental mandatory
responsibilities. Just because a particular individual or group has a grievance, it does not entitle such
persons to fundamentally disrupt social cohesion, to disrupt and jeopardise the response times of our
emergency services and to severely and adversely affect our economy. Nor does it entitle such persons
to fundamentally disrupt ordinary citizens who wish to go about their daily lives. By their own actions,
Extinction Rebellion and other associated persons have shown little regard or respect for the rule of
law; therefore, it is incumbent upon the Queensland parliament to act.
The legislation before the House today as introduced by the Palaszczuk Labor government is
limited in scope, particularly with respect to some of the actions we have seen in and around Brisbane’s
central business district. We have every right while we are debating this legislation to question the
efficacy of these new laws and whether this legislation that the Palaszczuk Labor government has
introduced will lessen the chaos and disruption that has impacted not only Brisbane but other parts of
our state as well.
True to form, and as is the modus operandi of the Palaszczuk Labor government, the process
that this legislation has undergone has been nothing short of a haphazard mess, marked by an
eagerness to appear to be doing something whilst simultaneously abandoning any meaningful
consultation. On 19 September, Labor introduced the Summary Offences and Other Legislation
Amendment Bill 2019 with the intent to crack down on unlawful protesters who use dangerous
attachment devices. The bill was referred to the Queensland parliament’s Legal Affairs and Community
Safety Committee for consideration, with a reporting date of 4 November 2019.
To the absolute surprise of no-one, Extinction Rebellion continued to ignore the rule of law and
only increased its disruptive, dangerous and unlawful behaviour. On 9 October, after weeks of inaction
and silence by the Palaszczuk state Labor government—a government which continued to sit idly whilst
hardworking Queenslanders and emergency services workers were left to deal with the chaos and
disruption—Labor’s Minister for Police and Minister for Corrective Services wrote to the committee
advising of the intent to bring forward the reporting date to 21 October 2019.
As committee report No. 52 of the 56th Parliament makes clear, a number of stakeholders raised
significant concerns surrounding not just the truncated time frame for reporting but the supposed
consultation that had taken place with respect to the legislation. Section 1.4 of the committee’s report
is damning of the government’s consultation. It states—
The explanatory notes provide that consultation was undertaken with the following external stakeholders:
• Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) and member Unions
• Queensland Council of Civil Liberties
• Queensland Law Society (QLS)
• Queensland Bar Association
• Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)
• Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
However, no additional information was provided in the explanatory notes regarding the nature of this consultation.
A number of stakeholders raised concerns that they had not been consulted on the Bill as indicated.
It is simply not good enough for the government to include in the explanatory notes that they have
consulted with a number of key stakeholders when it is so clearly not the case. Indeed, it is offensive to
this parliament and our legislative process. However, with the Queensland parliament finding the
Premier in contempt with respect to other matters, how can one be surprised given the integrity and
accountability scandals that continue to engulf the failed Palaszczuk Labor government? The Australian
Conservation Foundation said—
No written correspondence has been received from the Queensland Government, by ACF regarding the Bill, nor has there been
any formal opportunity to offer feedback.
They further submitted—
At the very least we would expect to see a written summary of proposed laws and be given the opportunity to present considered
formal feedback. Ad hoc phone conversations are not, in our view, formal consultation and should not be represented as such in
Explanatory Notes to the legislation.
After this ultimately damning indictment by the Australian Conservation Foundation of the Labor
government’s shockingly poor consultation, they said—
We request that reference to ACF be removed from the Explanatory Notes.
The Queensland Resources Council stated during the public hearing that it had not received any
written materials in advance of the introduction of the bill. As for the Queensland Law Society, it
submitted that its consultation consisted of a series of conversations with senior police officers, one of
whom showed some pictures of the devices that have been used.
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It is clear that, having sat idly for so long, the rush by the state Labor government to appear to
be doing something has resulted in legislation which, while seeking to deal with dangerous attachment
devices and enhancing some police powers, ultimately remains limited in both its application and its
ability to effectively crack down on extremist protesters such as Extinction Rebellion. Protesters who
use these so-called lock-on devices are small in number and form, but these are one of the many
disruptive and unlawful activities. When it comes to effectively targeting these extremist protesters,
Labor is all talk and no real action. That is why the Liberal National Party, as foreshadowed, will be
moving amendments to this bill and seeks to act where the Palaszczuk Labor government will not.
The amendments the LNP opposition will be moving will seek mandatory jail for the new unlawful
assembly offence to ensure anyone convicted of multiple breaches of the new offence will face
mandatory jail time. Secondly, the Liberal National Party opposition will be seeking to amend the
legislation to impose tougher bail law changes to reverse the presumption of bail for offenders charged
with unlawful assembly who commit an offence of a similar nature whilst on bail. These amendments
are necessary because the Palaszczuk Labor government is simply too weak and too beholden to
unions and other extremist groups to meaningfully act in the best interests of the majority of law-abiding
All Queenslanders and all Australians have a right to free speech, but no-one has the right to
break the law. No-one—certainly not Extinction Rebellion—has the right to endanger our society,
endanger our citizens or endanger and adversely impact our hardworking emergency services, their
personnel and the critical care they provide. I would call on all members of the House, in particular the
members of the Palaszczuk Labor government, to support the Liberal National Party’s sensible
amendments which are to be moved by the shadow minister for police and corrective services, the
member for Toowoomba North.
I rise to address the Summary Offences and Other