M/s Marion Smith, Senior Ministerial Policy Advisor ** Important ** - 2 July 1997

Minister for Police and Minister for Racing Letterhead

Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Racing


Ref: MS/NE:070497.MIN1721/2

-2 JUL 1997

Secretary
Far North Queensland Free Beach Association
PO Box 678
CAIRNS QLD 4870

Dear Secretary

I refer to your last letter of 3 April 1997 and to several telephone calls you have made to this office regarding "Dress Optional" areas in Queensland.

I apologise for the delay in responding but, as previously indicated to you, the Queensland Police Service has been asked to prepare a Cabinet Submission regarding this matter. That Cabinet Submission has been prepared by the Vagrants Act Review Committee. The Committee has provided the Government with a summary of all available options as follows:

  1. Retain the current law which effectively makes nude bathing in a public place illegal;
  2. Retain the current law which effectively makes nude bathing in a public place illegal, but provide police with administrative guidance as to when proceedings should be commenced. Police will always have a prosecutorial discretion whether to commence proceedings against an offender. A Commissioner's Instruction could provide policy guidance for operational police. This option would not require legislative amendment. However, the exercise of this discretion may lead to some confusion within the community unless a public information campaign is also adopted. This option would also make section 4(1)(viii)(c) redundant as effectively it would no longer be used;
  3. Remove section 4(1)(viii)(c) from the Vagrants Act. The adoption of this option (which was recommended by the committee) would make nude bathing in a public place prima facie legal. This would still allow police to take action if deemed appropriate under section 7 of the Vagrants Act if, having regard to the place and time of nude bathing, it constitutes "offensive behaviour". The comments made in paragraphs 3 and 4 supra must also be considered; and
  4. Remove section 4(1l)(viii)(c) from the Vagrants Act and allow local authorities to declare nude bathing sites. This would still allow police to take action if deemed appropriate under section 7 of the Vagrants Act. However, the public would be better informed as to where nude bathing may legally take place. This option effectively devolves a difficult moral decision to local authorities.

There are two main issues that need to be considered. Firstly, in the initial stages it is a decision for Cabinet to decide if there should be any changes to the current laws as they stand. Secondly, if the submission receives Cabinet approval the amendments to the Statute law is a minor amendment. For this reason a decision has been taken to group a number of issues together to allow them to proceed through Parliament at the same time and therefore reduce the number of issues being considered by Parliament.

It is for the above reasons that we are unable to provide a time frame in which these matters will be considered.

I trust this information is of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely

MARION SMITH
Senior Policy Advisor

PO Box 195 Brisbane Albert Street Q 4002, Queensland. Telephone: (07) 3239 0199 Facsimile: (07) 3236 3622

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