22 October 2013


The Queensland Parliament's Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee has released its report [PDF] on the G20 (Safety and Security) Bill 2013 (Qld) noted here.

Its recommendations are as follows -
R1 The Committee recommends the G20 (Safety and Security) Bill 2013 be passed.
R2 The Committee recommends clause 18 of the Bill be amended to remove unnecessary duplication between the criterion involving damage to property and the definition of violent disruption offence.
R3 The Committee recommends that examples and non-examples be added after clause 18 of the Bill to aid in the interpretation of what would and what would not constitute a disruption to the G20 meetings under the Bill.
R4 The Committee recommends the Minister for Police and Community Safety engage in further discussions with the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Legal Aid Queensland to investigate the establishment of a G20 Legal Hotline similar to that put in place for the Sydney APEC meeting.
R5 The Committee recommends the Queensland Police Service take steps to ensure appropriate interpreting services are available during the G20 meetings.
R6 The Committee recommends a note be included in the search chapter directing readers to the relevant section of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 setting out the safeguards in relation to searches that will continue to apply throughout the G20 meeting.
R7 The Committee recommends a note similar to that contained in clause 37(3) of the Bill be included in both clause 38(3) - Power to require personal details for offence etc, and clause 58 - Powers relating to excluded person, to ensure there are consistent references to the provisions dealing with the removal of headwear.
R8 The Committee recommends a note be inserted after clause 44 directing readers to the appropriate provisions of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 relating to forfeiture of items to the State.
R9 The Committee recommends clause 51(3) of the Bill be amended to require the Commissioner of Police to give written notice of a decision under clause 51(2) to a person who made written submissions, as soon as reasonably practicable.
R10 The Committee recommends clause 51 of the Bill be amended to require the Commissioner of Police, in his notice given under clause 51(1) to include written reasons as to why a person has been included on the prohibited persons list. The requirement to give reasons should be subject to the situations set out in clause 54(4) and clause 54(5) should similarly apply to a notice under clause 54(1).
The Committee notes that
No public consultation was undertaken by the Government in relation to the Bill.
The reasons provided in the Explanatory Notes for the lack of public consultation are as follows: Public consultation was not undertaken with respect to the Bill as the additional powers required for policing the G20 meeting are specialist in nature, relevant only to very limited geographical areas and will remain in force for a very short time frame. Additionally, there is an international expectation that Queensland will provide those policing powers essential to maintaining a high level of safety and security during the G20 meeting.
Consultation was undertaken with the Commonwealth G20 Taskforce to ensure that particular needs for the G20 meeting are addressed in the legislation.
In relation to consultation more broadly, the Queensland Law Society (QLS) while not directly critical on the lack of consultation in the development of the Bill, submitted:
Considering in particular the likely impact that these provisions may have upon vulnerable groups, such as homeless persons and young people (given that they are likely to use public spaces) within the Brisbane and Cairns city areas, an extensive consultation and education campaign must be undertaken to inform these groups (and their relevant stakeholders, including community legal centres) of the security arrangements during G20. It will also be equally important to ensure that residents and businesses in relevant areas are provided with information well in advance to allay security concerns.
The report goes on to ask "Is the Bill necessary?", before stating -
Given the extent of the powers contained in the Police Act, and the fact that it already contains ‘Special Events Powers’25, a number of submissions raised issues upfront that the Bill was simply not necessary. Submitters argued that the current police powers in the Police Act were sufficient to cater for the safe conduct of the G20 event.
The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) put forward a number of contentions including:
The ALHR contends the PPRA in its current form sufficiently provides the powers sought by the legislative intent of the proposed Bill.
With reference to the current provisions of the Police Act, the ALHR stated:
The PPRA outlines the powers that police have in relation to preserving safety for special events (Chapter 19, Part 2, sections 556-575). These sections deal with conditions of entry, the appointment of authorised persons, the provision of scanning and screening devices at special sites, powers to request the removal of clothing, and related powers. The PPRA, with respect to preventing violence at special events, has the authorisation to determine prohibited items (including any and all items proposed in the Bill) that are forbidden from bringing into the zone described as the area for the ‘special event’ (s 558(2)(d)).
Furthermore, the person will be forbidden to possess a prohibited item unless a reasonable excuse is provided (s 574). Allowing police officers and authorised persons this discretion provides for a common sense interpretation for the security and prevention of violence for these events whilst simultaneously protecting civil liberties and avoiding the stripping away of rights to protest peacefully. Furthermore, the assault of an authorised person is an offence, and an authorised person has the power to use x-ray devices and electronic screening to prevent entry and to search for weapons and dangerous material (ss 563, 567 & 575). 
Similarly, the Caxton Legal Centre outlined the ability for the QPS to declare special events in its submission submitting:
Chapter 19, Part 2 of the PPRA sets out the "Special Events Powers" available to the Queensland Police Service. These powers have been used previously without incident to cover events such as the Goodwill Games, the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Meeting, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting, the Rugby Union World Cup and the Gold Coast lndy.
Under this Chapter, the Minister has the ability to declare a "special event site" in and around which the police have heightened powers. In and around these special event sites, entrants must provide reasons for entry, submit to physical and electronic searches of both themselves and their belongings. The Minister is able to publish a list of prohibited items which may not be brought into the special event site or possessed once inside. Just twelve months ago the Queensland Police Service reviewed Chapter 19 of the PPRA and noted, "The QPS has not to date, identified any deficiencies with respect to their [Special Events Powers] effective operation. Whilst the test to establish a case to utilise the powers is high, this reflects an appropriate balance between the nature of the powers available to police officers and the justifiable need to limit the use of the powers to 'special occasions' rather than being available for use in 'day to day' policing operations" (emphasis added).
The Caxton Legal Centre concluded:
This assessment by the QPS clearly raises questions about the necessity of introducing further 'special powers' legislation specific to the G20.
In response to submissions that the Bill is unnecessary, the QPS emphasised the G20 event is a unique event which requires specific powers to ensure an appropriate level of security is provided to G20 delegates and the community. 
The QPS considered the existing Queensland legislation does not provide sufficient police powers to deal with an event of the scale and magnitude of the G20 meeting and in particular, specific legislation was required to:
• declare structured security areas including motorcade areas;
• quickly declare additional security areas;
• undertake mandatory searches of persons and vehicles seeking to enter restricted areas or motorcade areas;
• establish a Prohibited Persons List;
• serve exclusion notices;
• enter and search premises within a restricted area;
• close a road, easement, private access or waterway should the need arise;
• obtain a person's personal particulars;
• remove obstruction items including a vehicle that might be left abandoned on a potential motorcade route;
• override the provisions of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 for a motorcade purpose; and
• create specific offences relevant to the G20.
In relation to the necessity to create specific safety and security for the G20, the Explanatory Notes provide:
In collaboration with other agencies, the Queensland Police Service is responsible for providing security to G20 delegates and for all meeting and accommodation venues, motorcade routes and any other event associated with a G20 meeting. The delegates include Internationally Protected Persons who require stringent security measures to protect their personal safety.
The Queensland Police Service is also responsible for ensuring that members of the public and their property come to no harm as a result of any illegal activities that may be planned by persons opposed to the G20 meeting. Limited powers are available under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (PPRA) to deal with an event of this scale and magnitude. Despite the PPRA Special Event legislation, there is a lack of sufficient special powers required to ensure the security of G20 events and the safety of delegates and members of the public. 
The QPS stated the development of the Bill as a stand-alone piece of legislation was considered to be superior to amending the Police Act as it more properly reflects that the powers provided in the Bill will only apply for a limited time and a limited location and will expire at the conclusion of the G20 event.