New child killer laws passed
THE parents of a Moranbah toddler bashed to death by his babysitter labelled the tougher child killer laws a "small victory" for Queensland families.
For four years Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin have pushed for stronger penalties after 18-month-old Hemi Burke was killed in 2015 by Matthew James Ireland.
In June 2017 Ireland, after having already spent about two years in prison, was jailed for eight and a half years for manslaughter. He will be eligible for parole later this month.
Under the new law, convicted killers whose callous disregard for their victims results in death will be jailed for life.
"Now we've changed the system we've still got to live with the fact that our son's killer is eligible after only spending four years in prison," Mr Burke said.
The Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, passed Wednesday, expands the definition of murder to include reckless indifference to human life and increases penalties for certain child-harm related offences.
"This legislation seeks to capture those child manslaughter cases at the higher end, those involving violence or significant neglect but where intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt," Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath said.
However, Hemi's dad expressed some disappointment that elements of the LNP's Bill, such as a mandatory 15-year jail term for child manslaughter, wasn't included in the new legislation.
"We liked the expanded definition of murder, but that still relies on the court and we were worried that plea bargains would still be done," Mr Burke said.
"We're not upset or cranky, we're quite happy that this has changed.
"We needed to see this change just to know that the next family doesn't have to go through what we went through.
"Unfortunately we have to wait until another child dies to see if (the new law) works, which is very sad."
LNP leader Deb Frecklington said Labor's new laws "fall well short" of punishments for child killers that meet community expectations.
"The current system will continue to fail our precious children," Ms Frecklington said.
Mr Burke had hoped to see elements of both bills used to create the new laws for child killers.
"Queensland would have had the most robust legislation in Australia," he said.
"At least it is a step in the right direction and time will tell if it works.
"And if it doesn't we'll be back down to parliament pushing for more reforms."
Hemi's parents are still waiting to hear back from the Parole Board as to whether they can speak in person if Ireland applies for parole.