Cartoon: by Zanetti
Queensland’s extreme anti biker laws have hit the spotlight again to day for all the wrong reasons. There seems to have been an announcement a day for several weeks now, but after the legislation was rushed through parliament, there seems to be a screw-up per day.
The latest is an error in the draughting of the law, which has changed the context to mean that bikers who have quit ‘outlaw’ clubs are no longer outlaw bikies. This seems reasonable under normal circumstances, but it appears that this was not the intent of the legislation and has left prosecutors in the embarrassing position of arguing in court that ‘it’ means ‘was’, somewhat reminiscent of Clintons parsing of what the meaning of the word is is:
Justice Wilson criticised the wording of the laws, suggesting they were not clear on whether the reverse onus of proof for bail should apply to former bikies even if they had left a club long ago.
"Maybe the problem is if the legislature wanted to capture people (who were past members), they haven't done it very well," she said.
Mr Bleijie said it would be inappropriate to comment on the case but "if our laws need amending, we'll amend them".
"The criminal motorcycle gangs will try anything to try to get around our tough new laws and we will adapt the legislation accordingly," he said. "We put these laws in place to protect the community."
Justice Wilson criticised the framing of the laws by Parliament, suggesting it was not clear whether the reverse onus of proof for bail should apply to bikies even if they had long ago left a club. …
… She rejected the argument by prosecutor Todd Fuller QC that the new laws should apply, for example, even to an ex-bikie who had "cut all ties 15 years ago" from an outlaw motorcycle gang.
Mr Fuller argued an ex-bikie should have to prove he had cut ties with a group that "supported and encouraged participation in serious crime" and was no risk to the community.
But defence lawyers for the three former Hells Angels argued the laws spelled out an accused must be a present member of a criminal organisation for the new laws to apply. Barrister Peter Callaghan, for the Da Silvas, said "By no amount of torturing can the word 'is' arrive at 'was'". …
The three people involved are already accused of involvement in an alleged multi-million dollar drug ring and if guilty will be sentenced to years behind bars. There seems to be little benefit, nor justice in adding 15-25 years to such a sentence just for being former members of a motorcycle club. The law in civilized countries should be about what a criminal has done, not on who he associates with.
Prosecutors seem to be arguing that a guy who was a member of a now declared organization back in the early 60s, got married, sold his bike and settled down to raise a family, retired, got his superannuation, got nostalgic for his old Harley, bought one, went out on a ride, and broke one of the plethora of laws that we are subjected to nowadays, should do fifteen years in the slammer.
Mussolini would have been better than this.