The rushed legislation passed by the Palaszczuk government has sparked strong criticism from the opposition and Greens. The government has been accused of trashing the parliament and using its numbers to push through the changes without proper scrutiny. Rushing the amendments has been described as a blight on democracy, with concerns raised about the suspension of children’s human rights.
Organizations such as the Queensland Human Rights Council, Queensland Law Society, and Queensland Council of Social Service have all criticized the changes, along with the National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollands. Hollands expressed her concern, stating that the government’s actions lack evidence and will not enhance community safety.
Hollands emphasized that police watch houses are not suitable for children due to several reasons. Police officers are not trained to care for children, nor is there any provision for education or rehabilitation. Furthermore, the conditions in these watch houses are shocking, with limited or no access to fresh air, exercise, or natural light. It is distressing to know that children as young as 10 years old are being detained for extended periods in such conditions.
On the other hand, Health Minister Miles defended the amendments, stating that they formalized a practice that has been in place for 30 years. He acknowledged the challenges of being in government and making choices based on the facts available. Miles argued that the community expressed concerns about violent offenders being released without proper rehabilitation, and thus, the government had to take action.
However, Hollands noted that this situation is indicative of a larger problem within the system. She argued that this crisis is not making the community safer and points to serious underlying issues that need to be addressed.
Overall, the rushed changes to the legislation have raised significant concerns about the treatment and welfare of children being held in watch houses. The lack of adequate care, education, and rehabilitation in these facilities is alarming, and the opposition is calling for a reconsideration of the amendments.