The Queensland Law and Justice Institute (QLJI) says Premier Campbell Newman was out of line when he effectively criticised a retired Supreme Court judge yesterday.
Retired justice Richard Chesterman said it was bad law and bad policy to give the Attorney-General the power to bypass the courts and keep some sex offenders behind bars indefinitely.
Several barristers have also criticised the new sex offender laws.
Mr Newman yesterday described critics of the new tough measures as “apologists for paedophiles”.
‘Beyond a joke’
However, QLJI president Peter Callaghan SC says the debate has sunk to a new low.
“There are legitimate concerns about the fact the powers have been taken from judges and given to politicians about whether this law is constitutional,” he said.
“To say that the only people who are criticising these laws are apologists for sex offenders and paedophiles is beyond a joke.
“I just don’t think a remark like that is part of an intelligent debate.
“No-one who is criticising these laws is an apologist for the people under the discussion – we’re an apologist for democracy.”
‘Living in ivory towers’
Premier Campbell Newman has told Fairfax radio today critics of his Government’s new sex offender laws are “living in ivory towers”.
Mr Newman says the public supports the Government’s stance.
“I’m sorry Richard [Chesterman], I’m sorry other members of the legal fraternity – what the community is saying is you need to listen,” he said.
“You need to come out of your ivory towers.
“You need to mix with the ordinary men and women across Queensland who’ve said ‘we’ve had enough of people who are a threat to the community being released’.”
He also told Fairfax Radio he is also concerned by recent court decisions granting bail to alleged outlaw bikies.
“Queenslanders are sick of these people who get appointed into these jobs who then are totally unaccountable,” he said.
“Judges and magistrates don’t actually have to go for re-election – they’re there appointed, they have tenure, they’re there until a retiring age and I can’t influence them and I don’t try to influence them.”
Mr Newman says his LNP Government will be voted out if the public does not support the new laws on bikie gangs and sex offenders.
He says it is up to the courts to apply the new laws.
“I don’t tell judges what to do – neither does the Attorney-General – nor are we now,” he said.
“What we are saying is the community is has said ‘enough’s enough, we’re not being protected’ and we’re saying here are a new set of laws to protect Queenslanders.
“If Queenslanders don’t like that, they’ll vote us out – there is nothing sinister about that.”
Mr Newman repeated his claim on Fairfax radio that critics of the policy are apologists for paedophiles and rapists.
“If you’re not going to offer solutions then essentially you are an apologist for those sorts of people,” he said.