Lawyer wants more bite in Qld dog laws

QUEENSLAND’S dog laws need more bite according to Gold Coast lawyer Bruce Simmonds after a court case where a dog owner was acquitted after her dog bit a resort manager.

He said the current laws generally allowed every dog to get one “free” bite but the law was poorly structured and needed to be toughened so a dog owner was held responsible in town settings for any and all actions by their dogs.

Mr Simmonds, of Gold Coast law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers, said the issue was in the news after a court case where a dog owner was prosecuted by the Gold Coast City Council after her Staffordshire terrier bit a resort manager.

The woman had taken her dog to the resort’s pool area and got into an argument with the resort manager over a noise complaint issue. The court heard the dog bit the manager after he picked up a metal crutch to ward off the animal.

Mr Simmonds, who was not involved in the court case, said he had acted for numerous dog bite victims in compensation claims and felt the public did not necessarily appreciate the ongoing trauma victims suffered from dog attacks.

“What if the victim in this case was a child or a baby? Our dog laws are too lax. They should be tightened up so a dog owner is responsible in town settings for all actions of their dog. If they can’t look after it they shouldn’t have one. A dog should not be roaming common property.

“In the country if a dog bit a person or stock it would be shot,” he said.

Mr Simmonds has long argued that Queensland should adopt the New South Wales system where owners are automatically liable for their dog’s behaviour and can be fined or even jailed if they ignore their responsibilities.

“In Queensland even though a dog is allowed to have a first bite before it can be classed as dangerous, you still have to show negligence in not containing the animal

“There’s no real criminal liability here although certain dangerous breeds are banned, as they should be. But the dog laws system is still soft and needs strengthening,” he said.

“We should have a system that says you must have compulsory third party insurance when registering your dog. If the dog bites someone, there’s automatic liability on the dog’s owner,” Mr Simmonds said.

The system could also provide for a substantial fine and the dog’s destruction if the dog’s insurance or registration lapses.

“Responsible owners will follow the rules, it’s the lazy and irresponsible ones we need to target,” he said.

“If a person can’t insure their dog, they can’t have a dog, just as you can’t legally drive a car if there’s no CTP insurance,” he said.

Conflicting information over new bus services causing confusion

CONFLICTING information being distributed by Translink about new bus services is causing confusion among Nerang commuters this morning, according to Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP.

“Last week residents at the YMCA Housing Complex in View St were advised by Translink Phone Inquiry Line that they would no longer be able to catch a bus at Railway Parade and would need to walk to Paradise Street to meet the bus as no service would travel along Railway Parade,” Mr Douglas said.

“Today they’ve been advised the service will include Railway Parade although Translink is confused by what is happening.

“Commuters have been mislead by in some cases confusing route maps which in this case did not list Railway Parade as a stop and did not clearly state the route was on Railway Parade which caused angst amongst residents.

“After being approached by upset complex residents, the YMCA community and compliance manager met with me on Friday to express concerns about the new timetable which she said would no longer include Railway Parade and leave 118 tenants without a close service,” Mr Douglas said.

Transport Minister, Scott Emerson took to radio airwaves on Monday morning, arguing that Mr Douglas was providing misleading information.

Mr Douglas has since responded, advising Mr Emerson to question Translink staff who had initially distributed the conflicting information to Gold Coast commuters.

“Residents serviced by Yarimbah Drive and Dungadan St services certainly don’t agree with the Minister that the Gold Coast will have a far better service today, as their services have been cut back significantly to finish mid-afternoon Monday to Friday and no weekend services,” Mr Douglas said.

“I haven’t made up these stories – I’ve just acted on information supplied to me by upset commuters and the advice given to them by Translink.

“Further confusion has been added by incorrect bus stop signposts and timetables being put up at the weekend at Robina and Helensvale Stations.”

Local community groups share in $25,000

THANKS to the Gambling Community Benefit Fund, two local community groups within the Coomera Electorate will share more than $25,000.

The Pimpama Island & Districts Community and the Gold Coast Lacrosse Club received a combined $25,607.27 from State Government Funding.

Member for Coomera, Michael Crandon has welcomed the allocation.

The break up and purpose of the funds to these Coomera Electorate community groups will see $22,000 allocated to the Pimpama Island & Districts Community which will go towards upgrading their building.

The Gold Coast Lacrosse Club will receive $3,607 to install share structures.

“These groups work for the benefit of our local communities and I’m thrilled they have received these funds to help them in their endeavours,” Mr Crandon said.

The Newman Government recognised the struggle for funding is constant and that it is wonderful to provide much-needed financial support through these grants every few months.

It’s part of millions of dollars provided across Queensland through the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.

“These grants are designed for approved not-for-profit organisations and are not intended to replace existing sources of support for these organisations,” he said.

“I encourage all groups in the community to apply for the next round of funding before the end of February 2014.

For more information or to see a full list of recipients please visit www.olgr.qld.gov.au and click on ‘grants’

 

Prep teachers get new tools

Gold Coast Prep students will be given greater opportunities to learn and improve their literacy and numeracy skills thanks to a new teacher kit.

The “Early Start Kit” is a set of maths and writing materials which gives schools and teachers the opportunity to monitor the progress of their Prep to Year 2 students.

Surfers Paradise MP and Minister for Education John-Paul Langbroek said the Early Start kit is all about boosting literacy and numeracy outcomes in our schools.

“Research shows that the early years of schooling are a critical time for students, as they begin to develop essential literacy and numeracy skills that pave the way for future learning,” Mr Langbroek said.

“The data generated by Early Start will give teachers invaluable insight into the best ways to effectively target the learning needs of their students.”

Teachers will use the program through one-on-ones with students to gather valuable information about each child’s learning ability.

“This kit is not for grading or comparing students, it’s designed to help teachers and schools determine the best way to develop each child’s literacy and numeracy skills.”

Education Queensland partnered with the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to develop the Early Start materials, the use of which is optional in schools.

Alcohol fuelled violence targeted in Surfers

Queensland is keen to adopt a zero tolerance approach to alcohol-related violence.

The LNP will either roll back opening times in nightspots, or boost the police presence and increase penalties for public nuisance and violent offences.

Premier Campbell Newman has called for feedback over the next few months.

Gaven MP Alex Douglas put in his two cents worth, and thinks we need a multi-faceted approach, claiming the Premier feared the alcohol lobby more than stopping the consequences of drunken behaviour.

“Mr Newman’s approach to jail and fine drunks rather than cutting drinking hours ignores the rehabilitative approach and isn’t the solution,” said Dr Douglas.

“Chasing the populist support not only fails to correct the problem, but when the public sees how ineffective that approach is, it will go the way of community views on the new anti-bikie laws”.

“Mr Newman needs to take on the alcohol lobby if he wants to fix the issue by reducing hours and alcohol advertising and increase the price of alcohol, similar to what’s happening in Scotland”.

He added that advertising is increasing while alcohol has been selling for less and less over the years.

Mr Douglas said alcohol fuelled violence is not just a problem in pubs and clubs, but can also cause issues at home.

Meantime the Bulletin reported that technology which hooks venues up to a national database of people with a history of becoming violent after a night of drinking will be rolled out across Surfers Paradise.

Club Liv the first to benefit.