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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Crime crackdown closes legal loopholes

    Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Crime crackdown closes legal loopholes

    Murderous ex-lovers, graveyard vandals and unscrupulous landlords are in the Bligh Government’s legal sights with tough new laws introduced in Parliament today.

    Attorney-General Cameron Dick said Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 would close legal loopholes relating to the partial defence of provocation, the prosecution of graveyard vandals and the use of ‘ratchet’ clauses in shop leases.

    Mr Dick said the amendments would mean jealous ex-lovers who killed their partners would no longer be able to claim they were provoked by the victim’s alleged taunts to reduce a murder charge to manslaughter, except in exceptional circumstances.

    “The proposed changes will remove insults and statements about relationships from the scope of the provocation defence and also recognise a person’s right to assert their personal or sexual autonomy,” Mr Dick said.

    “Those who kill out of mere jealousy or sexual possessiveness should not expect any sympathy or benefit from the provocation defence when facing justice.”

    The amendments follow the Queensland Law Reform Commission finding that some offenders who kill their lovers claim provocation on the basis of their victim’s alleged infidelity, insults or threats to leave the relationship.

    The changes are part of a Bill that the Attorney-General introduced in Parliament today.

    Mr Dick said the new provisions would also increase the maximum penalty for graveyard vandals to seven years’ imprisonment.

    “The wilful damage or destruction of headstones, cemeteries, places of worship and war memorials is insulting and offensive, and does not reflect community values,” he said.

    “Under existing provisions, the prosecution has to prove that the damage was done without the owner’s consent, which can be particularly difficult in the case of graves.

    “These amendments will make it easier to secure convictions by requiring defendants to prove that they were acting with appropriate authority and consent.

    “They also introduce a new offence of interfering with a grave or similar property to deal with those occasions where the desecration does not cause physical damage.

    “The new offence will apply to conduct such as urinating on a grave and other anti-social behaviour that would generally be regarded as offensive and carry a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment.”

    Another amendment will protect businesses from rental rorts such as contractual ‘ratchet’ clauses.

    Mr Dick said the government would amend the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 and ban the use of ratchet clauses in shop leases that allow rents to rise but not fall.

    "The government will amend the laws to ensure that rents can fall, as well as rise, according to the economic circumstances,” he said.

    "The proposed changes will provide lessees with greater protection from landlords who refuse to pass on rent decreases when they are appropriate.

    "They could also help relieve some of the cost pressures that currently confront small businesses."

    The Bill will be debated in Parliament in 2011.

    Media contact: Office of Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister 3239 3487