Police Powers and Responsibilities (Commonwealth Games) Amendment Bill

Posted On: 1 Jun 2017

On 14 February this year the Police Powers and Responsibilities (Commonwealth Games) Amendment Bill 2017 was introduced by the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services. The bill was initially referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, of which I am a member, but, I imagine, owing to the heavy workload of that committee the bill was referred to the Education, Tourism, Innovation and Small Business Committee for consideration to be reported on by Friday, 28 April this year.

The objectives of the bill are very straightforward. It will provide additional police powers to protect mass gatherings of people in public areas associated with the games, other than prescribed major event areas, by allowing a new type of security area to be called a protective security zone. Also, the bill proposes to exempt searches of persons, vehicles and premises in protective security zones and searches of persons conducted under the Major Events Act 2014 from being enforcement acts for the purposes of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.

In its briefing on the bill, the QPS advised the committee—

The Major Events Act is expected to apply to the games and will provide sufficient powers to provide a safe and secure environment within a prescribed games major event area. However, it does not address security requirements in other public areas associated with the games where people will gather in large numbers—for example, designated pedestrian routes to a venue and public transport hubs and networks. The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act also does not specifically address the unique security issues associated with the games in the current security environment.

The games present unique security challenges. They are spread over several consecutive days and involve multiple venues that attract large crowds inside and out. In the public briefing, the Queensland Police Service further advised—

The security challenge is compounded by the current global and national security environment.

The explanatory notes to the bill state that games security planning is informed by recent international terror events. The public national terrorism threat level remains at probable. The proposed additional police powers will be based on a new type of security area to be called a protective security zone.

The bill also exempts police officers from the obligation to record the details of searches in a protective security zone in a register and continues that exemption for searches conducted in a major event area under the Major Events Act after the games. Concerns were raised in submissions and at the committee’s public hearing about the removal of the obligation to record searches undertaken in a protective security zone in an enforcement register. Submissions from the Queensland Law Society and the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties raised the apprehension about the additional powers. The QLS also recognised the unique security challenges that such an event attracted and that extra measures may be necessary to ensure safety. In order to operate successfully, the completion of enforcement registers will be exempted, as they become unfeasible in protective security zones when officers cannot execute large numbers of searches in such a short time frame. However, should a weapon or explosive be discovered during a search, that would be recorded.

As the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games draws nigh, the Police Powers and Responsibilities (Commonwealth Games) Amendment Bill 2017 is an essential step as it adds additional powers to a suite of bills that it has been necessary to introduce in order to provide safety in hosting an event of this scale. I note the concerns of the Council for Civil Liberties that the bill goes too far in restricting fundamental rights and liberties of the citizens of, and international visitors to, Queensland. Although I have the utmost respect for an individual’s human rights and liberties, I have an even deeper respect for the protection and preservation of human life. As my father used to say, it is better to be sure than sorry.

When I introduced the Major Events Bill in October 2014, I had not long been back from the Glasgow games, where I witnessed intense security measures on a massive scale. On some days I would have three changes of clothes for functions. I can tell honourable members that police and security guards checked me very thoroughly each time I came and went from my hotel. It was a common practice to exchange commemorative pins, so I went through a lot of them as I passed through security with new staff shifts.

The Major Events Bill provided a generic framework for use at major events in Queensland—events of national or international significance, mega-events such as the Commonwealth Games. The legislation was activated depending on factors, such as event size, the number of spectators, the duration and economic benefit. At the time, the powers for authorised persons who would assist police in duties such as bag checks created a discussion. It is unsurprising that extra police powers, contained within the provisions in this bill, have also attracted comment.

Quite rightly, the explanatory notes illuminate the very real threat of a terrorist activity. The fact that the public national terrorism threat level remains at probable should be a reminder to us all to remain vigilant. In recent weeks, hardly a day has gone by without a chilling attack on innocent people in countries mostly located in the Northern Hemisphere. In London and France, police were the targets. We watched in horror as we saw people being run down by a motor vehicle in a place as familiar as the Westminster houses of parliament before a policeman was stabbed to death in front of terrified and confused onlookers. In Paris, the iconic Champs-Elysees was targeted. On Australian soil, in Parramatta a teenager shot dead Curtis Cheng outside police headquarters. Fifteen-year-old Farhad Jabar was captured on CCTV footage giving the IS salute as he left a mosque on his way to the police station. Of course, this week there was the shocking terrorist attack in Manchester. May I add my sincere condolences to all who have been affected by this tragic event.

Is it any wonder that our police want extra powers—powers that will not only protect us and the thousands of visitors who will flock to the Gold Coast and Queensland but also powers that give them a sense of protection in what is increasingly a dangerous and deadly job. Let us face it: our reputation is at stake. As a very proud Gold Coaster, I want us to shine brilliantly as we host these fantastic games. I want them to be remembered as the best yet, so I truly hope that members opposite will not twist my comments into something they are not.

One of the major tasks will be transporting athletes, visitors and ticket holders to events. Our transport woes are real. Congestion on the M1 and across the Gold Coast looms as a real risk to timely delivery and access to the games. Already, traffic comes to a standstill regularly on the north and southbound lanes of the M1—not just at peak times, but at any time. What is Labor’s solution? To tell the locals not to drive on it. They will need to do a whole lot better than that.

I have been very keen to assist with information relating to my electorate of Currumbin, where a number of events are being held, but I have found the consultation process very light on and have now been told that all inquiries have to go to the minister. I offered to keep residents informed through newsletters and social media, but it seems that that is not wanted. That is why, on behalf of the residents and small businesses of Currumbin, I have asked the minister a question on notice. Although there is considerable excitement—and it is growing—there is also a degree of trepidation as to the impacts on the hundreds of local small businesses that line Currumbin Creek Road and the residents of Galleon Way and Guineas Creek Road. They want to know what restrictions they will have placed on their trading hours and how they will get out and about their neighbourhoods. There are also security concerns—as to be expected. One year, the night before the Tour de Valley cycling race into Currumbin Valley some low-lifes decided to scatter tacks along the road that could cause punctures and serious injury to cyclists.

The Commonwealth Games are known as the friendly games. Of course, they are still competitive, but they are friendly. Playing political games is frowned upon. It is a pity that ministers in the Palaszczuk government are deliberately shunning local MPs by not inviting them to events in their own electorates. I do not know if this is a directive of Peter Beattie, the Premier, or the minister for the games, but it is just not cricket. The Premier cries foul when the Prime Minister does not tell her when he is coming to Queensland. That is exactly what she and her ministers are doing to LNP MPs on a regular basis. I reject outright any suggestion that I spiked the volleyball, as former games minister Hinchliffe decried. The LNP put in a request to the Commonwealth Games Foundation to include volleyball and the recommendation that came back from the games federation was, ‘No.’

I am very proud of the hard work put in my by colleagues in the former LNP government to secure games venues and the athletes village and our plans for them to be completed 12 months ahead of the games. The legacy from these venues alone is a huge bonus. Recently, I was watching a clip of the closing ceremony in Glasgow, where Tom Tate and I invited the world to come to visit us in 2018. We have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put on the best show in the world. I have every faith that Queensland will put on a fantastic games and I will do all I can to make sure that happens.

Welcome from Jann

As the State Member for Currumbin since 2004 we have achieved much together to make the place we call home an even better and safer community.

It truly is an honour to serve the caring and connected residents of Currumbin.

Your thoughts and concerns matter to me and I look forward to continuing to be a strong voice on your behalf.

My electorate office staff and I are here to help you with state government issues.

Kind regards

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