Cartoon: Day by Day.
Political knee jerk reactions are the reflex action of a government who believe their own hype to such a degree that they consider that only new action by big brother will fix any problem, which gets highlighted in the press. The fact that there are sufficient existing laws to deal with the situation, usually with several powers of overkill fails to impress or dissuade them from such a course of action. Consider the following:
QUEENSLAND will match South Australia with some of the toughest anti-bikie laws in the world, cracking down on their fortresses and group gatherings.
Premier Anna Bligh will today announce State Government measures to dismantle the dangerous outlaw motorcycle gangs.
She said authorities would be given stronger powers to stop the bikies' organized criminal activities, including manufacturing drugs, extortion and money laundering.
The moves come after two outlaw motorcycle gangs set up new headquarters near city centers in Queensland. …
The problem I have with this is that all of the activities that she seems concerned with are already illegal and have more than adequate laws in place to deal with them already. Drug dealing, violence, killing each other, and so on are all covered by existing laws, and it does not require new laws which are bikie specific for those existing laws to be enforced. Much of the proposed laws are on the face of it discriminatory, for example:
“ … gang members will be restricted from owning weapons, working in the security industry or holding a liquor license.”
There seems to be little justification in denying to members of disapproved bikie gang rights, which are not denied to other citizens under normal circumstances. The ‘owning weapons’ aspect is ludicrous anyway as most law abiding people are denied the right to own weapons. It is rather pathetically naïve of Bligh to assume that on the assumption of these people being law-breakers, such a law will be obeyed in any case. This woman is just plain dumb.
The main new victim in this exercise is the rights to freedom of speech and association. Interestingly, in 1951 the Menzies government passed a law banning the Communist Party. It was challenged in the High Court, which ruled that it was invalid. Following this, the government sponsored the communist referendum in an attempt to validate its position. This was opposed by the Communist Party, Australian Labor Party, and by the Young Liberals, on the grounds that it restricted freedom of speech and association.
Political parties consist of groups of people freely associating just the same as bikie gangs are, and with the current controversy in the Bligh government in relation to dirty deals, nepotism, ‘pay for play,’ and downright corruption, it is difficult to imagine a reason why political entities should be awarded any protection from the law not afforded to non-political entities.