The Queensland bikie laws are turning innocent pub drinkers with tattoos into ‘criminals’, and making life impossible for pub owners. Muddle-headed, badly-drafted laws always have unforeseen consequences
Over-the-top bikie laws make ‘criminals’ of anyone with tattoo
By Bill Rowlings, CEO of Civil Liberties Australia
Before the new Queensland bikie laws were more than hours old, the problems they create for ordinary, non-bikie citizens became apparent.
Bad laws do that: they criminalise the innocent, and demean all the citizens of a state because they involve the abuse of state power to legislate. When the state over-legislates, we are all diminished.
The first problems to come to light? Discrimination, against ordinary citizens, and against hotel keepers.
With bikies no longer allowed to wear their club colours (jackets), how can police tell if three bikies are – illegally under the new law – associating by drinking together in a pub?
They can’t of course. So Queensland Police decided they were round up everyone in the bar who had a tattoo, and interview them to see if they were a bikie. Among anyone under about 30, tattoos are a dozen a dime, so that you will now – officially – be victimized by the Queensland Police if you have a tattoo.
Artwork one day, criminal identifier the next: that’s how tattoos are in Queensland.
And the same problem affects your pub owner or manager, who is not allowed to let bikies associate in his hostelry. But how does the person running the pub identify a bikie? Same problem the police have.
The Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie and Premier Cameron Newman are acting like very dumb bigots in enforcing stupid laws badly drafted.
Why would anyone in Australia with a tattoo go to Queensland for a holiday, where they might be singled out by police and accused of being bikies…until they can prove their innocence.
Passing bad laws, reversing the presumption of innocence, making criminals of hotel keepers who can’t tall how to abide by the law, and driving away interstate visitors.
Good one Jarrod. Good one Cameron. You’ve managed to confuse your police, criminalise your hosteliers, and drive tourist traffic away. Next you’ll be protesting you’ve been marooned by your citizens.
Paranoia reigns in the State of Terror: chambers next?
The Queensland Police Union (QPU) says internal emails sent to rank and file officers have warned them to carry out the mission or be shown the door, in the first public sign that cracks are appearing in the government’s Over-The-Top (OTT) with Cam approach to the law.
The new Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD) 2013 includes mandatory sentences for bikies of up to 25 years on top of normal penalties for crime. A special bikie super-prison within a prison is also being mooted, along with coloured uniforms.
Premier Campbell ‘OTT’ Newman is presiding over a State of Terror (according to a police email) where the rule of law applies only to chosen people. If you are not in the chosen group, the rule is thrown out the window and the law is what OTT Cam and Jarrod ‘Blinky’ Beijie (pictured), the Attorney-General, say it is.
But no group of people, police officers included, will simply ignore the inherent principles of a fair go simply because political fundamentalist warriors have gone rabid.
There was no greater illustration that the State of Terror’s government is on trainer wheels than the Premier’s suggestion that locked-up bikies (in their own, special prison facility costing probably hundreds of millions of dollars) should wear pink prison uniforms “for shame”.
Why? In the State of Terror, the bikies are to be locked in cells 23 hours a day: what difference does pink make? Perhaps they should just have a pink star pinned to the chest of their shirts, to save money, as identifiers?
According to the QPU, one email says: “Government considers that we – the Qld Police Service Senior Executive – have failed to adequately and professionally respond to this matter – consider this in all your communication and thinking. This is a crisis – has been compared to a terrorist act – we should be developing our strategies locally based on this type of thinking. The mission is clear – to rid Queensland of criminal motorcycle gangs – it is to be achieved in conjunction with normal business, priorities and the current change process – if this is not personally acceptable to you, consider your future with the QPS.
“You are required to develop meaningful longer-term strategies to irradiate [sic] all CMG activity and membership in your District – we will incorporate this into our weekly management process and the performance management process.”http://tinyurl.com/q8wfdt9
Possibly the only place where “separate” laws for special groups of people worked effectively was in Nazi Germany, where selected people were also forced to wear distinctive clothing…or rather yellow stars on their chest. Perhaps Qld’s new bikie super-prison inside the Woodford facility will later have to have special chambers built. Architects, please note.
By the way, it will cost Qld taxpayers about $150,000 a year or more to house each of the bikies jailed, because they have to be held in ‘special’ circumstances ((see WA costs story, on the CLA website).
The poison spreads…
Victoria Police now want to criminalise bikie gangs…because they have been criminalised in Queensland.
Under new Qld law, untested in the High Court, Qld police only have to ask the Qld AG to declare the bikie gangs to be criminal. Under Victoria laws, police have to convince a Supreme Court judge beyond all reasonable doubt that the organisation is involved in criminal offences.
Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Graham Ashton now wants to use a clause in Victorian laws to circumvent the tougher test: there is a clause in Victorian law which allows police to register a “corresponding declaration” from another state, without a Supreme Court judge having to consider an application. http://tinyurl.com/pepvxbq
When the intent of laws is abused in the way proposed in Victoria, you wonder who are the criminals?
These are the laws being fiddled…
Once you fiddle with the rule of law, you have to change lots of laws to accommodate the fiddle. Here are the ones in Queensland:
- Criminal Law (Criminal Organisations Disruption) Amendment Act 2013, Act No. 45 of 2013
- Queensland Tattoo Parlours Act 2013, Act No. 46 of 2013
- Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD) 2013,Act No 47 of 2013
- Police Powers and Responsibilities and Another Regulation
Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2013
There is no doubt that these laws, like cane toads, will spread interstate.
Laws should be applied to gooses as well as ganders
There’s a saying about the Australian notion of a fair go: what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Civil Liberties Australia believes that special laws for separate groups should always be mirrored by the same laws for politicians: that is, if any politician breaks a law he or she should have their vehicles crushed and they should serve double the normal sentence in a jail where they are locked up 23 hours a day.
Any extra powers to the Crime and Misconduct Commission over bikies should be mirrored by increased CMC powers over politicians.
It is indisputable that politicians have more propensity to damage the community than bikies, so they should be punished accordingly if they actually do criminal harm. http://tinyurl.com/kdlvv4c
Police pantomime fails to find weapons
“We are going to come down strong. we’re getting fed up with it (motorbike gangs), and we’re going to take them on,” acting Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Fontana told the media last month, explaining that he had just overseen the first major operation of its kind to target a specific bikie gang in Victoria.
The Hells Angels and its affiliates were targeted because the gang had been seen as the “aggressor” during recent attacks involving high-powered weapons, he said.
People can reasonably ask: why was this the first major operation against bikies?
Why haven’t police been targeting bikies month by month, year by year, if the bikies are as bad as the police have been claiming they are, for a decade.
Apparently, there have been no bikie raids at all recently…then suddenly “700 police officers execute sweeping raids on 60 properties across Melbourne”. There were media tip-offs in advance, so the police could look good on video news and in newspaper photos.
If bikies are constantly committing crimes, as police say, why are they not constantly being arrested, day by day, week by week?
On the day of police overkill last month, the 700 actors in the police pantomine managed to arrest 13 people. That is, it needed 54 police officers to arrest each person.
The main purpose of the raids was to search for AK-47 and M1 Carbine weapons, which they failed to find. They did find other ‘lighter’ weapons and ammunition.
Surely someone in police management, in Victoria and/or federally, can hold an inquiry into this fiasco and determine that it was a waste of resources and a serious impost on the police budget for virtually minimum return.
If only police were subject to the same types of financial restrictions that our schools, hospitals, and ambulance services have to get by on. http://tiny.cc/7gxr4w
Laws set a double standard
A criminologist and former cop says new Queensland laws will force bikies into a life on the run.
Former Gold Coast detective Dr Terry Goldsworthy says the proposed laws are unfair and set a dangerous new precedent for double standards in Queensland. He says there’s now one set of rules to deal with bikies who commit crimes, and another for non-gang members who commit exactly the same offences.
Under the laws, bikie gang members who commit serious crimes face 15 years of extra jail time. For club office bearers, the penalties are harsher still: an extra 25 years on top of whatever they get for their original offences. Other changes include a presumption against bail for criminal bikie gang members. http://tinyurl.com/o38aymw
Local CCL says arrogance reigns
Queensland Council of Civil Liberties vice president Terry O’Gorman said the the state’s new anti-bikie laws showed the “arrogance that comes with a thumping majority and no upper house to call a government with a big majority to account”.
Mr O’Gorman was sceptical of Premier Campbell Newman’s claim he would like to see a “sunset clause” applied to the law, ending the legislation when it “was no longer needed”. “These laws, once there, will be there forever,” Mr O’Gorman said, adding that in a 35-year legal career he had seen the removal of only one criminal law added as a statute. http://tinyurl.com/mpbpvdp