The Summary Offences and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 created two new offences in the Summary Offences Act and gave new powers to Police for search without a warrant.

The Bill was introduced to the Queensland Parliament on 19 September 2019 and was assented (passed into Queensland law) on 30 October 2019 as the Summary Offences and Other Legislation Act 2019.

It was introduced amidst large scale, disruptive public protest occurring throughout Queensland in response to Australian climate policy.

The new offences target the use of devices used in protest to interfere with transport infrastructure and development equipment. In addition, Police powers to search people and vehicles without a warrant are expanded where there is a reasonable suspicion that someone is in possession of a relevant device.

The Offences – Using a dangerous attachment device to disrupt lawful activities

A person must not use a dangerous attachment device to:[1]

  • Interfere with the ordinary operation of transport infrastructure unless the person has a reasonable excuse–
    • Maximum penalty – 50 penalty units or 2 year’s imprisonment

– Stop a person from entering or leaving a place of business; or

– Cause a halt to the ordinary operation of plant or equipment because of   concerns about the safety of any person unless the person has a reasonable excuse –

  • Maximum penalty – 20 penalty unites or 1 year’s imprisonment
‘The PAA (Peaceful Assembly Act) highlights that the right to peaceful assembly is not absolute. There must be a balance between the rights of those participating in a peaceful assembly with considerations about public order and safety and the rights and freedoms of others.’ – Pg 1, Explanatory Note to Summary offences and other legislation amendment Bill 2019

What is a dangerous attachment device?

 It is a dangerous attachment device if it:[2]

  1. reasonably appears to be constructed or modified to cause injury to a person who attempts to interfere with the device or;
  2. reasonably appears to be constructed or modified to cause injury to a person if another person interferes with the device; or
  3. incorporates a dangerous substance or thing;

Separate from this definition, the following items are included to be ‘dangerous attachment devices’ for the purposes of the Act:

  • A sleeping dragon – if it incorporates an anchor point for a person to hold or to which a person’s hand can be bound or locked and a casing that shields the person’s hand, or the binding or lock, from being released by another person.
    • E.g two large steel pipes welded together at an angle with a thick pin fixed in the centre
  • A dragon’s den – if it incorporates 1 or more sleeping dragons or tubes large enough to pass a person’s hand through and reinforces the casing of the sleeping dragon or tube by adding bulk and weight.
    • E.g a 44-gallon drum incorporating a sleeping dragon and otherwise filled with concrete
  • A monopole – if it relies on a long pole and support riggings to suspend a person off the ground and reasonably appears to be set up to fall if another person interferes with the support riggings; and a fall of the device would cause injury to the person suspended from it.
  • A tripod – If the legs of the device form a tripod large enough to be used to suspend a person off the ground and it reasonably appears to be set up to collapse if another person interferes with the legs of the device or any support riggings for the device; and a collapse of the device would cause injury to the person suspended from it.
‘Alarmingly, some people have made use of attachment devices that have also been constructed or designed in such a way as to endanger themselves, emergency service workers and potentially members of the public. It has been reported some people have claimed that they have placed glass or aerosol canisters inside devices…’ Pg 2, Explanatory note to Summary offences and other legislation amendment Bill 2019

What is not a dangerous attachment device?

The new act provides further clarifications on what is not to be considered a dangerous attachment device when used in isolation:[3]

  • Glue
  • A bike lock
  • A padlock
  • A rope
  • A chain

However, the legislation does indicate that they can form parts of an item that can be a dangerous attachment device if it falls within the definition in the act.

While the use of any of these items will not fall under the charges discussed in this factsheet, their use may still result in criminal charges.

Search without a warrant

The legislation expanded police search powers to allow them to conduct searches of people or vehicles without a warrant where they reasonably suspect a person has something that may be a dangerous attachment device.[4]

If a police officer finds a dangerous attachment device and reasonably suspects that it has been used to commit an offence, can dissemble the device or seize the device or any of its parts.[5] If an officer takes any of its parts, it is lawfully forfeited to the State. This means that you cannot get it back once confiscated.

For further information and advice you can contact the Environmental Defenders Office Citizen Representation Program on 07 4028 3739.

References

[1] s14C Summary Offences Act 2005 (Qld)
[2] s14B Ibid.
[3] s15A Ibid.
[4] s30(k) Police Powers and Responsibilities Act
[5] s53AA Ibid