Queensland has joined the headlong rush for new laws targeting bikie gangs and members since the incident where a gang member was killed in a brawl at Sydney airport. Premier Anna Bligh said the Queensland Government would have the power to proscribe an organisation and then make membership of that organisation illegal, under the new legislation. The stampede by state governments began in South Australia and has steadily gathered momentum.
Fortunately there are voices of sanity speaking out, unfortunately they are not being listened to:
PROPOSED anti-bikie laws could push Queensland into a ''McCarthy-like witch hunt'' against law-abiding citizens, a prominent defence lawyer warns.
Brisbane criminal defence lawyer Tim Meehan said the State Government decision to implement anti-bikie laws smacked of a panic reaction to the current media and public focus on bikie gang behaviour.
Mr Meehan said the tough new laws could act against law-abiding citizens and legitimate businesses, drive the gangs underground and make them more dangerous.
''The headlines are all about a looming all-out bikie gang war in Australia, and that's exactly the environment which encourages McCarthyism. There's a real risk anyone who rides a motorbike will be labelled a bikie,'' he said.
He warned Queensland risks becoming like America of the 1950's when Senator Joseph McCarthy whipped up hysteria about communism and innocent people were wrongly accused of either being or even associating with communists.
The new Queensland Government is pulling a media stunt by threatening to crack down on bikie gangs, a Brisbane criminologist says. …
"Bikies may go to ground and perhaps shave off their beards and remove insignia which has happened in other countries where governments have tried to crack down on organised crime, but the effect won't last too long." ….
Dr Schloenhardt said he did not understand the "mad rush" to push anti-bikie laws through. An Australian parliamentary inquiry examining the best way to tackle organised crime groups had been under way for almost a year and was due to report its findings in mid-2009, he said. "I don't see why the states can't wait," he said.
Today we get the news:
Police say they have dismantled a major drug network with links to outlaw motorcycle gangs in South-East Queensland.
Officers today raided dozens of properties in Brisbane, Toowoomba and on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
They seized $500,000 in cash and drugs valued at more than $250,000. Restraint orders were also imposed on $2.6 million worth of property.
Thirty-six people have been charged with a total of 82 offences relating to the possession of drugs, money, firearms and clandestine laboratory equipment.
So, just why the hell, do we need new laws to deal with the outlaw element among motorbike clubs? Police appear to have struck a significant blow against these people just by enforcing existing laws. There are laws against all of the illegal acts of outlaw bikies as things stand now, so I am inclined to think the whole ‘new law’ thing is just grandstanding by legislators in order to be seen to be doing something about it.
The problem I have with the proposed laws is that in passing them, the government has given itself the right to impose blanket bans on entire organizations, and ban freedom of association, which is outrageous. Worse still, anyone who opposes this will be labeled as not caring about criminal violence. It is noticed that the LNP has jumped on the bandwagon and claiming that they thought of it first, which leaves the LDP as the only party in Queensland which is prepared to defend freedom.