Leanne Linard
Leanne Linard

MP spells out backflip on bail laws

JUST two months ago Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper was singing the praises of Labor's "strengthened" bail laws, but his tune has changed and he is now calling for an "immediate review" of those laws.

In June, after the death of four children in a stolen car crash at Garbutt, the state government changed the language in the youth bail legislation.

The swapping of the word "may" for "must" was supposed to stop serious, repeat offenders getting out.

 

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In the past week, the shocking failures of those very laws have had horrific consequences, with the deaths of a Brisbane couple, hit and killed by an out of control stolen car, allegedly driven by a teen out on bail.

Then three police officers were injured in Townsville, during an incident involving a stolen car, allegedly driven by a 14-year-old, also out on bail.

That prompted Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll to question the legislation and Mr Harper has now followed suit.

"100 per cent agree with the Queensland Police Commissioner on seeking an immediate review into the Youth Bail Laws to stop the recidivism of those offenders who are wreaking havoc on our communities. Let's do this ASAP and help make our community safe. Lock them up," Mr Harper posted on Facebook.

The post is a far cry from the MP's talking points of past few months.

Mr Harper has repeatedly posted on Facebook and told media outlets that the government's bail laws were working and stopping offenders walking the streets. In July 2020, when footage emerged of young offenders taking stolen cars for joy rides, Mr Harper touted the government's changed laws.

"You will be caught, and our laws state they must not get bail and these disrespectful fools will be locked up," he wrote on Facebook.

In October Mr Harper referenced a Townsville Bulletin article about a magistrate refusing bail, saying: "Good. More of this please. We must keep our community safe. Simply no need for the LNP's three strikes and you're in detention? Or reinstate their failed breach of bail as an offence that the LNP are promising. Because under Labor's already passed legislation, offenders simply don't get bail!"

In December, the MP wrote on Facebook: "We have changed the laws on bail, and it is good to see recent reports of magistrates applying it."

 

 

Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper.
Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper.

He later told the Bulletin: "That means the law that we passed, and it was these members in Townsville that took that to our counterparts in the southeast, to say that we needed to strengthen the laws around bail."

When questioned by the Bulletin about his change of heart, he said he did not believe he had backflipped on bail laws, saying he would not shy away from what needed to be done.

"I think there is always room for improvement," he said.

Mr Harper said he was "charged with representing his community" and he welcomed the chance to work with anyone who wanted to make change.

"We have to clean up the streets one criminal at a time," he said.

"I don't care if I offend someone by saying what has to be said when we're copping these harrowing scenes; I won't accept that happening in our community."

Mr Harper's attitude on crime has come along way.

Back in September 2016 he said Townsville's crime crisis shouldn't be publicised because of the threat to business.

Mr Harper yesterday said he was furious a number of the children allegedly involved in Saturday's stolen car incident that left three police officers with injuries had been released from custody.

"Frankly, I am disappointed, extremely disappointed to hear that (they) … made bail," Mr Harper said.

"What are the courts doing?

"That might be taken as criticism of the courts, but as I said today, I have clear expectations."

Originally published as MP spells out backflip on bail laws



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