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Proposed castle law a ‘dangerous response to crime in Queensland’

A proposed law in Queensland, which has sparked heated debate, would grant residents the right to use lethal force to protect their homes. However, this measure has drawn strong criticism from lawyers, who consider it an extreme and perilous response to crime.

user iconGrace Robbie 26 June 2024 NewLaw
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Last month, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) introduced a bill to the Queensland Parliament seeking to amend section 267 of Queensland’s Criminal Code.

The proposed amendment aims to allow individuals to lawfully respond to a home invasion with a level of force that may potentially cause grievous bodily harm or even lead to the death of the intruder.

During the tabling of the legislation in Parliament, MP Nicholas Dametto emphasised the urgency of passing the amended bill by highlighting the alarming increase in crime rates in Queensland in recent years.


“According to the Queensland Government Statistician’s report, there was a staggering 11.2 per cent increase in Queensland’s crime rate in 2022–23 compared to the previous year, with 11,089 offences committed per 100,000 people.

“There were 51,000 break and enters recorded across Queensland in 2022–23. It is appalling to see those numbers climbing at such an alarming rate,” he said.

Since its introduction in Parliament, over 40,000 Queensland residents have expressed their support for the state government to enact legislation allowing for the implementation of castle law by signing a petition initiated by the KAP.

The petition outlined how current Queensland law states that a person may only use “reasonably necessary” force to defend themselves or others during a home invasion.

However, the petition noted that “what is considered reasonable in all circumstances is open to broad interpretation” and that such ambiguity could result in home owners facing “criminal charges such as assault or murder”.

KAP’s petition also underscored how “good laws should be in place to protect good people” and that “every Queenslander deserves the right to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property”.

Despite receiving support from more than 40,000 residents, numerous legal leaders in Queensland have expressed profound concerns regarding the proposed legislation and the potentially significant repercussions of implementing such a law on the community.

Queensland Law Society president Rebecca Fogerty emphasised that the proposed bill is “extreme and broad” and can have some “terrifying consequences” for the Queensland community.

She also stressed that the amended legislation is “deeply concerning in relation to community safety and vigilantism”.

Fogerty said that “the fact there is support for this proposal within the community suggests there may be some misunderstanding about the way the current self-defence law works”.

She went on: “KAP’s proposal removes the need to use reasonable force, meaning any person could legally kill another person for being on their property or damaging their property – any time another person feels under threat.

“This could result in tragic consequences; for instance, if two teenagers ran to their neighbours’ house to escape domestic violence, they could be met with unaccountable gunfire.”

Fogerty acknowledged the “understandable fears” some community members might have towards property crime but underscored how the current law “works well” and the “KAP’s proposal won’t fix the current issues we are seeing and must be denounced”.

The principal of Creevey Horrell, Dan Creevey, expressed similar concerns regarding the castle law bill proposed by KAP, stating that it is a “dangerous response to crime in Queensland” and that the amendment “should be met with extreme caution”.

Creevey said: “It is clearly inconsistent with the Criminal Code’s detailed interpretation of the use of ‘reasonable force’. For example, the draft laws within the bill will allow a person to use force that is intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm to intruders without the person reasonably believing that the use of the force is necessary to prevent death or grievous bodily harm.”