Govt backflips on ‘get out of jail free card’ for crims
THE Government has dramatically dropped plans to rush through a bizarre law that would have allowed prisoners to be released on parole up to seven days earlier during the pandemic.
The changes, lauded by Police Minister Mark Ryan about 7pm last night as a measure to prevent prisoners being forced into homelessness, were hastily pulled just an hour later as he declared: "if you do the crime, you do the crime".
The abrupt backflip came just hours after The Courier-Mail made inquiries about the laws, which would have allowed the chief executive of Queensland Corrective Services can order the release of a prisoner from a jail up to seven days before their scheduled parole date.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington seized on the comments, saying the Premier had "been caught out with this sneaky law change".
"If you do the crime, you must do the time," she said last night.
"Coronavirus should not be used as a get of jail free card."
The law was to be included in a wide ranging Bill as part of the Government's ongoing response to the pandemic.
The Government had sought to use the important first full sitting of Queensland parliament during the pandemic to push through the measure, which it said would mean criminals can catch flights without delay, given the disruption to airline schedules.
The LNP had indicated it would vote against the changes.
Police Minister Mark Ryan earlier said without the changes - which he described as a "COVID-19 measure" - there was a "real risk" that released prisoners would be forced into homelessness and have difficulties returning home to remote parts of the state.
"This increases the COVID-19 risk to the individual and the broader community including vulnerable communities in remote locations," he said.
"It's better to release a prisoner on a day that coincides with their flight home rather than have them wander the streets for a week waiting for a flight.
"For example, for prisoners who live in remote communities, there are limited flights to remote communities at this time."
Ms Frecklington said the LNP would have opposed the law changes, insisting they would always put "victims ahead of criminals".
Laws that have been in effect since 2006 already allow prisoners who serve out their full sentence - and were not granted parole - to be eligible for the earlier than scheduled seven day release.
The remaining wide ranging COVID-19 laws will give local governments the power to increase or reduce the cost of their rates, charges and levies twice in the 2020-21 financial year in a bid to safeguard their revenue streams.
Councils can normally only make the changes once as part of their annual Budget and have to wait until the next year before changing them again.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Tuesday told state parliament the laws would give councils the flexibility councils to "revisit" their rates later in the financial year.
"This amendment will expire on 30 June 2021 to ensure that any alteration to rates applies to the entire 2020-2021 financial year," he said.
Parliament is expected to debate the laws this week.
Originally published as Govt backflips on 'get out of jail free card' for crims