Greens MP Michael Berkman has today asked whether the Labor State government will scrap Queensland’s “public drunkenness” offence, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and public spotlight on Indigenous deaths in custody.
The Victorian Government committed to remove the offence after a coronial inquest into Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day’s death in custody found it was “clearly preventable had she not been arrested and taken into custody”.
“The public drunkenness offence has been disproportionately used against people of colour, and First Nations people, legal advocates and other community members have been calling for it to be removed for years.
“With the Victorian Government’s commitment to reforms, Queensland will be the only remaining Australian State or Territory to criminalise public drunkenness.
“This is a backwards, punitive approach to what should be a health issue, it problematically implies that public intoxication is less acceptable than private intoxication, and we know it’s disproportionately used to target Indigenous people.
“Someone who's intoxicated in public and not hurting anyone else doesn't need punishment or a jail cell - if anything, they need compassion and support.”
Mr Berkman’s Question on Notice to the Premier today:
“Regarding the "public drunkenness" offence (section 10 of the Summary Offences Act 2005) and with reference to my letter of 5 November 2019 to the Premier and the former Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships: In light of the Victorian Government's commitment during the coronial inquest into the death of Yorta Yorta woman Tanya Day to remove its equivalent offence, the recommendations of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and the public demands of the black lives matter movement, will you commit to removing the public drunkenness offence from Queensland's laws?”