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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Attorney-General, Minister for Local Government and Special Minister of State
    The Honourable Paul Lucas

    Legal loopholes closed after tough new laws passed

    Attorney-General, Minister for Local Government and Special Minister of State
    The Honourable Paul Lucas

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Legal loopholes closed after tough new laws passed

    Tough new laws targeting murderous ex-lovers, graveyard vandals and unfair landlords have been passed in Parliament today.

    Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Paul Lucas said the passing of the Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 had closed loopholes relating to the partial defence of provocation, the prosecution of graveyard vandals and the use of ‘ratchet’ clauses in shop leases.

    “This Bill is a clear illustration of the Bligh Government’s commitment to continually monitoring and, where necessary, amending Queensland’s criminal laws in line with community views and expectations,” he said.

    Partial provocation defence

    “There are many serious and sad cases that led to these amendments, including the Sebo case which involved 16-year-old girl Taryn Jessica Hunt who was bashed to death with a steering wheel lock by her older boyfriend.”

    Damian Karl Sebo claimed that his girlfriend taunted him about ending their relationship and relied upon the partial defence of provocation to have his murder charge reduced to a conviction of manslaughter.

    “Those low life individuals who think it’s alright to kill someone because they claim their honour has been impinged if their partner has chosen someone else are beneath contempt and deserve to rot in jail.

    “As well we’ve reversed the onus of proof on the partial defence so that any accused trying to claim provocation will have to prove it rather than the prosecution.

    “My heart goes out the families affected and while these changes cannot bring anyone’s loved ones back, I hope that they provide some comfort that the law going forward will reflect the community’s expectations.”

    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.

    Graveyard vandals

    Mr Lucas said people who willfully damage and destroy headstones, cemeteries, places of worship and war memorials will face tough new penalties.

    “Cemeteries have enormous religious, cultural and historical significance and they represent a place of real personal connection between deceased loved ones and their surviving family,” he said.

    The new provisions increase the maximum penalty for graveyard vandals to seven years’ imprisonment.

    “The changes not only toughen the law but they make it easier to prove the damage was done without the owner’s consent and easier to secure convictions on these wonton and insensitive vandals.

    The amendments also introduce a new summary 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 offensive anti-social behaviour at a cemetery or war memorial carries a maximum penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment,” Mr Lucas said.

    ‘Ratchet’ clauses

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

    “The amendment of the Retail Shop Leases Act 1994 will ensure the use of ratchet clauses in shop leases are banned,” Mr Lucas said.

    “These are not easy times for small businesses.

    “Australians support a fair go for all, so how can you have a rental clause that says the landlord will have a review to market that can only put your rent up but never down.

    “It is un-Australian. This makes the law crystal clear that you can’t have lease agreements with rachet clauses.

    "This will provide greater protection for lessees by ensuring when there are market review clauses that rents can fall, as well as rise, according to the current economic circumstances and where appropriate.”

    Media contact: Deputy Premier and Attorney-General’s office: Thea Phillips 0400 232 341