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New parole laws 'nation's toughest' - no release for child killers

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Convicted child murderers and serial killers serving life sentences in Queensland may never get parole if the state government gets its way.

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The government wants to allow the Parole Board of Queensland to block those offenders from being granted early release for up to 10 years at a time.

Police Minister Mark Ryan says there will be no limit on the number of times parole can be blocked under the laws, which he says will be the toughest in Australia.

“Which means a further declaration could be issued for up to 10 years at the expiry of the previous declaration, for decades,” he told parliament on Thursday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the proposed changes would keep offenders locked up for longer by creating a presumption against parole as well.

“They are aimed at ensuring victims and their loved ones do not need to experience the trauma of parole being considered every 12 months,” Palaszczuk told parliament.

The move comes one day after LNP MP Dan Purdie tabled a petition with 72,000 signatures to deny parole to Barrie John Watts, who raped and murdered 12-year-old Sian Kingi in 1987.

Purdie backed the proposed laws as a win for “people power” in Queensland.

“Their collective voices could not be ignored,” the former police officer said in a statement.

“Any steps the Queensland Parliament can take to keep Watts, and monsters like him, in jail is a step in the right direction.

“I will continue to fight to ensure today’s announcement becomes law in Queensland.”

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties questioned if the proposed law was a knee-jerk reaction to Purdie’s petition.

QCCL president Michael Cope was concerned the laws would force offenders to prove they were not a danger to the community.

“If the state wishes to deprive a person of their liberty, they should be required to establish the basis upon which it’s being done, not the other way around,” he told AAP.

Cope said parole decisions should always weigh up the nature of crimes alongside a prisoner’s path to rehabilitation.

“Not just having some blanket rule, which presumes that they are incapable of improving themselves,” he said.

“Ultimately, they’re not being jailed for the term of their natural life, they’re going to get released eventually and the whole point of parole is that when they get released they have some assistance in getting back into the community.”

Cope said the proposed laws went against the findings of the 2016 Sofronoff review into the state’s parole system.

That review had recommended the abolition of Queensland’s mandatory 80 per cent non-parole period, but that wasn’t implemented by the state government, he said.

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