Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Bill

The Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Bill is part of a Queensland Government strategy aiming to restore responsible behaviour, stamp out alcohol and drug-related violence and ultimately ensure Queensland’s nightlife is safe for all. The Safe Night Out Legislation Amendment Bill is an Act that amends other legislation in order to achieve this objective. This legislation sees an increase in policing powers, and introduces new penalties and compulsory community service orders.

This reform aims to amend the Criminal Code by:

  • Creating a new offence of Unlawful striking causing death (section 302A). This section will be added directly after Murder (section 302) and will also carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. If a person is sentenced under this new section, the Court must make an order that the person must not be released from prison until they have served at least 80% of their sentence or 15 years.
  • Amending the definition of Manslaughter to include unlawful striking causing death.
  • Amending section 340, which deals with serious assaults, by increasing the maximum penalty for assaults on Public Officers. These are assaults which involve: spitting; biting; application of a bodily fluid or faeces; cause bodily harm; or where the offender is, or pretends to be, armed. The maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment, unless the offender had, or pretended to have a weapon, in which case the maximum penalty is 14 years.
  • Inserting a new chapter, namely 35A, to provide for the circumstances where a person, charged with certain serious offences of violence committed in a public place and while adversely affected, is to be taken to be (in the case of alcohol) or presumed to be (in the case of drugs) adversely affected by an intoxicating substance at the time of the offending.

This reform aims to amend the Penalties and Sentences Act by:

  • Requiring a sentencing Court to impose a community service order, in addition to any other sentence, where an offender commits an offence of violence in a public place and is adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.
  • Ensuring that voluntary intoxication of an offender by alcohol or drugs is not a mitigating factor for a court to have regard to in sentencing the offender.
  • Allowing a court to ban an offender from in and around licensed premises for any period of time including a lifetime ban if the court deems it appropriate. With respect to banning orders, the court may impose any other conditions it considers necessary.

New South Wales also recently introduced new laws sanctioning tougher penalties regarding alcohol and drug fuelled violence. These new laws included a mandatory 8-year imprisonment sentence for anyone that fatally punches someone while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Both Queensland and New South Wales Governments say the reforms are aimed at reducing alcohol and drug related violence and not to stop people from having fun.