Qld taskforce to criminalise coercive control

Queensland has unveiled a taskforce to consult on proposed laws as it moves to criminalise a form of domestic violence known as coercive control.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement on Wednesday morning, saying there were similar laws in places in the United Kingdom.

She said the proposed laws would better protect victims.

Margaret McMurdo, who is the former president of the Queensland Court of Appeal, will chair the taskforce.

Ms Palaszczuk explained coercive control was a form of non-physical domestic and family violence which instilled fear in victims and could lead to physical violence.

Behaviours might include controlling what someone wears, limiting access to money, tracking someone’s location, controlling who they see, and persistent texting.

“I know there are many women out there currently in these types of situations and it’s not good enough,” Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Wednesday.

“Today, we draw a line in the sand.

Almost one year ago, Brisbane mother Hannah Clarke and her children Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey were killed in a domestic violence attack by Ms Clarke’s estranged husband Rowan Baxter.

While on the morning school run, Baxter allegedly jumped in the passenger seat of the vehicle and doused his wife and children in petrol before setting them alight on February 19, 2020.

He then stabbed himself to death.

The brutal incident shocked Australia.

“We know what happened to Hannah and her beautiful children and we want to do everything we can to prevent it,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“This may mean legislative amendments that would need to be made but we need this task force to do this important work first to look at what we can do as a government to tackle this important issue.”

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said Queensland would be the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate against coercive control.

She said she hoped to have a bill in the parliament early next year after the task force reported back to the state government in October.

Ms Fentiman said the taskforce would help determine how to best make the change and if it needed a separate piece of legislation or changes to existing laws.

“We’re complaining this task force with experts because we want this to work,” she said.

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