Hearsay ... the Journal of the Bar Association of Queensland
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LNP Policy Statement Print E-mail

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Jarrod Bleijie MP, Member for Kawana and Shadow Attorney-General, has provided the following policy statement on behalf of the LNP.  

Queensland Bar Association, Queensland State Election, Legal Issues.

Thank you for the opportunity to put forward the LNP's policy position on legal issues affecting your membership.

The LNP appreciates and welcomes the Bar's strong advocacy and representation on legal issues affecting its members and all Queenslanders.

After 20 years of Labor Government, one thing is clear this election, the only way to get positive change is to change the Government and vote LNP.

I would like to respond to a number of issues in order.

Resourcing of courts and tribunals

The LNP is very aware of the strains on Queensland's courts and Tribunals. We recognise that the District Court of Queensland has had a considerable increase in its work load as a result of the enactment of the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction Reform and Modernisation Amendment Act 2009, and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal is strained under the weight of the huge number of minor civil disputes that have been filed. Where resources allow it, we will act to reduce court waiting times and backlogs. The LNP is particularly concerned with the resourcing of courts in regional areas.

The LNP is minded to change the way Queenslanders can access the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal if we were elected to government on March 24. Whilst we accept that there are strong public policy reasons why a party should be required to have the leave of the Tribunal to be professionally represented by a legal practitioner in minor civil disputes matters (that is, the old small claims jurisdiction), we believe that in many of the other important areas of the Tribunal's work there should be a right to legal representation - particularly where a person is facing disciplinary proceedings, or significant issues of a person's health, care or safety are involved.

The LNP is conscious that the Tribunal considers matters that often pitch parties of uneven experience against each other - often with legally inexperienced parties having to appear against representatives of organisations, government agencies and other bodies who are very experienced lay people when it comes to appearing in court.

Legal Aid Funding

If the people of Queensland decide to throw out this nearly 20 year old tired Labor administration, we are keen to be elected to office, and, armed with the knowledge and advice only available to the executive government of the day, see what can be done to improve the access to legal assistance for those who are facing terms of imprisonment, and particularly for those who, for one reason or another, find themselves caught up in child protection matters and guardianship matters.

The LNP appreciates that the vast changes brought about by the Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction Reform and Modernisation Amendment Act 2009, have had a dramatic effect upon the availability of funding for what would otherwise be legally aided persons, and how legal assistance is funded in general. The LNP has made it clear many times in the past that if elected to government, we stand ready to make corrections, and procedural improvements to the criminal justice system to ensure that fundamental values that underpin our criminal justice system are not thrown out the door in the name of 'reform'. This includes changes to the way Legal Aid Queensland operates.

Barrister 's fees for Government Service

For many years the rate paid by the Crown has been non-commercial and this has meant that there have been occasions when the Crown has not been able to utilise the services of counsel who best suit a particular matter or type of matter.

As this is an issue that has the potential to impact upon all private counsel in the State, the LNP stands ready to work with the Queensland Bar to ensure that there is opportunity to be briefed by the Crown, and also that the State of Queensland has the benefit of the best counsel that can reasonably be justified in differing matters.

Any suggestion that there is a preference for briefing counsel of one gender over another will end if an LNP Government is elected on 24 March 2012.

Access to damages for injured employees

The LNP supports injury compensation schemes that provide for fair compensation for injured Queenslanders. The scheme must allow access to common law actions in appropriate circumstance (and regulated by statute), and the schemes must be financially viable. The LNP has no plans to ask Queensland small businesses to pay higher WorkCover premiums; nor do we have any plans to reduce the availability of common law actions in appropriate circumstances.

Major law reform initiatives

An LNP Government would work very closely with the Bar Association and other key stakeholder to ensure robust discussion and consultation occurs as to any reforms to the law across areas such as human rights, criminal, planning and environment, consumer protection.

Yours sincerely,

Jarrod Bleijie MP

Member for Kawana

Shadow Attorney-General


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