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Question on Consent Laws

Question to the Attorney-General, Dec 1, 2021

Amy MacMahon:

The New South Wales coalition government has legislated an affirmative model of consent and Victorian Labor has committed to do the same. Why are Queensland Labor’s recently passed consent laws the most conservative in the country?

Shannon Fentiman:

No doubt the member will remember that we did modernise our consent laws earlier this year. I am very proud that we took recommendations from the Queensland Law Reform Commission to make some very important statements about consent: that silence is not consent and that the consumption of alcohol should not be considered when considering consent and mistake of fact. At the time we debated the reforms I made it very clear, as did almost all speakers on this side of the House, that we are not opposed to further reform and an affirmative action consent model; however, we would leave that to the experts. That is why the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has been asked to look specifically at any further legislative reform in this area.

I have watched with interest the reform in New South Wales. I note that the New South Wales common law model around rape and sexual assault is very different to our Criminal Code. In New South Wales you have to prove intent to rape; in Queensland you do not. It is a very different system. I have also noted with interest the recommendations in Victoria. Obviously the department will be looking at what happens in those jurisdictions. We have said that we are open to further reform in this space, but we do not want to get it wrong and we do not want unintended consequent.

The amendments that the member for South Brisbane brought in here during that debate would have made it much harder to successfully prosecute. We have to leave this to the experts. Any amendments to the Criminal Code have to be done in consultation with all stakeholders, including our domestic and family violence and sexual assault services as well as the Law Society and the Bar Association. That is what we have committed to doing. We have committed to consulting. We have set up a task force with experts to look at the best way to make sure that women are protected. That is what the task force that is looking at women’s experiences in the criminal justice system has been set up to do.

I do not think that you can say that this government has not done enough to protect women from sexual assault. The funding that we have provided to sexual assault services is more than ever before. I know that those services have done it tough. Many more women have come forward in the past 12 months and we are supporting the sector. We recently announced $150,000 to fund the first peak body for the sexual assault sector so that they can work more effectively with us to advocate on behalf of policy and legislative change. We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to end men’s violence against women, whether it is sexual assault, rape or domestic and family violence. This government has been absolutely firm in our support for women and our support for ending men’s violence against women. 

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