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Scott speaks in Parliament about the Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill (No 2) 2015.

I rise to make a contribution on the Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2015. As has been mentioned by all of my colleagues, we take great pride in the fact that there is bipartisanship on this bill. This bill flows from the investigation into domestic violence initiated by the former LNP government headed by Quentin Bryce and resulted in the Not now, not ever report. The bill flows from recommendations of that report, particularly recommendations 118 and 120, and deals with the objectives of amending the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 to make provision for domestic and family violence to be an aggravating factor on sentencing; amending the Criminal Code to create an offence of choking, suffocation or strangulation in a domestic setting; and amending legislation to allow a court to receive a submission from a party on what they consider to be the appropriate sentence or sentencing range for the court to impose.

Hansard Tuesday 19 April 2016

Mr EMERSON (Indooroopilly—LNP) (5.20 pm): I rise to make a contribution on the Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2015. As has been mentioned by all of my colleagues, we take great pride in the fact that there is bipartisanship on this bill. This bill flows from the investigation into domestic violence initiated by the former LNP government headed by Quentin Bryce and resulted in the Not now, not ever report. The bill flows from recommendations of that report, particularly recommendations 118 and 120, and deals with the objectives of amending the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 to make provision for domestic and family violence to be an aggravating factor on sentencing; amending the Criminal Code to create an offence of choking, suffocation or strangulation in a domestic setting; and amending legislation to allow a court to receive a submission from a party on what they consider to be the appropriate sentence or sentencing range for the court to impose.

I go back to the Not now, not ever report and urge all my colleagues and all Queenslanders who have not done so to take the opportunity to read that report. I have to admit that it not only reveals some horrific tales in some parts of our society but also strongly indicates that no part of our society is immune from the issues that that report confronts. Page 15 of that report deals specifically with the issue of strangulation and choking and points out that there are gaps in the existing Criminal Code. The report states—

...the Taskforce was given evidence that showed that strangulation was a key predictor of domestic homicide. A dedicated offence for this serious and violent act needs to be added to the Code and an appropriate penalty applied that takes into account that the act of strangulation within a domestic and family violence situation is a predicator of escalation and increased risk to the victim.

The report goes on to quote a contributor to the task force who said—

The violence would consist of him punching me, spitting on me, choking me...

As the task force report points out—

The Taskforce also heard repeated submissions in support of the introduction of a criminal offence which specifically encompasses the act of non-fatal strangulation. Strangulation was also mentioned in many of the personal stories told to the Taskforce, often using language such as ‘choking’ or ‘grabbing the throat’. Using terms such as these instead of ‘strangulation’ downplays the seriousness of the behaviour. This in turn can affect the response of health professionals, the police and the justice system to the act of domestic and family violence.

The report goes on to say—

Strangulation is a very common feature of domestic and family violence and is also seen as a predictive risk factor for future more severe domestic and family violence and for homicide.

It is very welcome that we are seeing this bill today, and I saw the comments by the very hardworking and widely respected chief executive of DVConnect, Di Mangan, who said that the new amendments were a welcome addition and that it was an important decision considering Queensland’s domestic and family violence statistics. Ms Mangan said that DVConnect is still receiving between 360 and 400 calls a day, which is double any other statewide service in the country. She said that strangulation is mentioned all day every day to the counsellors at DVConnect and that many of the women have been strangled or choked many times to a point where it becomes normal for them and that every now and again it leads to their death. Ms Mangan said that strangulation as a stand-alone offence was an important step to stopping domestic and family violence deaths and that it is a weapon that is very close and personal to women. She said—

To be looking at her at the point that he’s got his hands around her throat, that is the ultimate in domination.

She— the victim—

knows at any point she could be dead and whether she lives or dies is determined by the man in front of her.

Like many of my colleagues here, I commend this bill to the House. We can only hope that it goes some way to dealing with the terrible scourge of domestic violence in our community.