No get-out clause, no opt-out provision, no right of appeal. This is Queensland 2014: you can be guilty by association solely on the say-so of police. 14 June 2014
Freedom dies as the bikie bells toll
By Eva Cripps
Freedom dies in Queensland on the first day of July 2014.
The circle completes that day. The months of vilification and government-endorsed police harassment, which began with a ban on associating for anyone with even tenuous links to Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie’s personally-devised list of socially undesirables, culminates in the deprivation of lawful employment for this sub-culture. He calls them bikies.
From 1 July 2014, the final draconian law in Premier Campbell Newman’s suite of morally repugnant acts sees innocent Queenslanders potentially lose their livelihood on someone’s say-so, barred from working in their trade or chosen profession (See Criminal Law (Criminal Organisations Disruption) Amendment Act 2013 (Qld), Criminal Law (Criminal Organisations Disruption) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (Qld) and Tattoo Parlours Act 2013 (Qld)).
No evidence of criminal activity is required. No proof of involvement in crime. It just needs the police to claim you have a link with an “outlaw” motorcycle club arbitrarily declared by the Newman Government in 2013 to be a “criminal organisation”.
There is no get-out-clause, no opt-out provision, no right of appeal. Those people whose right to seek gainful employment is grossly infringed will not be privy to the information held against them.
A Premier and an AG will have successfully ostracised and criminalised an entire sub-culture.
It is not a government’s place to interfere in social activities, or pass judgment on friendships or your job choice to support yourself and family – provided you act within the law. But in Queensland from 1 July, in a time of peace and prosperity in the 21st century, an Australian state government is doing just this. And doing it with the full support of much of the public, elected representatives and the Queensland Police Service.
Newman and Bleijie have created a two-tiered justice system, one affording the rule of law’s protection to the privileged only. They make no apology for destroying the traditional fabric of our society.
“If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear,” is their mantra.
But innocent Queenslanders – who have done nothing wrong, but are subject to an unproven assertion by police that they are linked to a banned motorcycle club – will no longer be able to work in tattoo parlours, the electrical, security, building and construction industries, racing, pawnbroking or as second-hand dealers, tow truck operators, or any related field.
The police have so far been unable to point to data or evidence or convincing publicly available information, to show why denying innocent people the right to work where they choose is necessary. The government has not explained how depriving honest people of their livelihoods will stop criminal activities.
The entire fabric of social engineering by legislation rests on unsubstantiated and emotion-laden claims, unburdened by carrying any proof.
Police Minister Jack Dempsey, Premier Newman, Attorney-General Bleijie and various police spokesmen have all opined on the alleged nefarious activities of bikies and their associates: they sell drugs to children, they demand sex with honest businessmen’s wives and – the latest – they drug and rape children in their clubhouses. If these allegations are true, there is not one person who wouldn’t want the perpetrators dealt with to the full extent of the law.
Yet the police have still not arrested anyone for these claimed bikie crimes. No one has even been interviewed. They have simply smeared a sub-culture with abhorrent, offensive, vile and wild claims, purported to be fact but with no evidence attached.
The rule of law, which underpins Australia’s legal system, states that all people are equal before the law, and that we are all entitled to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial. But the government has abandoned equality under the law in Queensland. Police officers, arrested and charged with rape, with 38 witnesses, are entitled to the presumption of innocence, says the Queensland Police Commissioner, Ian Stewart. So says the Queensland government. Let the courts decide…in those cases.
But courts will by untroubled by having to find bikies guilty. If you’re a bikie, or associated with a bikie, or look like a bikie, there is no presumption of innocence. You lose the freedom of association, the basic right at law of a fair trial, and to have evidence of wrongdoing presented in a court and the chance to contest it. You will no longer have the right to work in your chosen occupation, merely on the say-so of police.
From 1 July 2014, many innocent Queenslanders will no longer have the same freedoms as other Australians. The police have publicly stated that there are over 1000 fully patched members of “outlaw” motorcycle clubs in Queensland, and a further 3000 or so associates. They expect this number to grow as they actively search out others to include in their category of ‘participant’ in a declared organisation.
In an interview on ABC radio in June, Walter Sofronoff, Queensland’s ex-Solicitor-General until his sudden resignation earlier this year and the State’s highest and most respected legal adviser, who was Bleijie’s right-hand man, confirmed that the Attorney-General himself drafted the laws to include a broad range of people – the children, parents, partners, as well as innocent workers who had simply provided services to clubhouses or events hosted by bikies. Tens of thousands of people may be subject to the absurd laws, drafted by a man whose only legal experience is as a suburban commercial and conveyancing lawyer.
Tens of thousands of Queenslanders run the risk of mandatory jail for hanging out in public with their family and friends; they face constant insecurity in their job, forever fearing a wild allegation of association will be made. On one allegation, they can lose their basic freedoms and internationally recognised human rights.
The Queensland government isn’t concerned with stopping crime. Despite their assertions that the laws are working, that crime is decreasing, that more complainants are coming forward than ever before, their goal isn’t to stop crime. Despite the police’s best effort, bikies and associates are still only allegedly responsible for 1% of crime.
If the laws work so well, and the government is so keen to stop crime, why haven’t other organisations been made subject to them? If corporate criminals are responsible for 2-3-5 times as much crime as bikies, why isn’t there a crackdown on the big end of town?
If the existence of the laws encourage complainants to come forward, as police suggest, why haven’t religious organisations and institutions, proven to be perpetrators of child sexual abuse, been added to the list?
Why don’t the laws apply to everybody? Every year, thousands of women are sexually assaulted, abused or murdered by their husbands in Australia. Every year, thousands of children are molested, raped and abused by family, friends, teachers, priests, and upstanding members of the community who are meant to protect them. Weekly, the media reports drunken assaults, violence, bashings and coward punches by young men on complete strangers in the streets.
If the model of Premier Newman’s anti-bikie laws work so well, why aren’t they applied to all? If Premier Newman really wants to stop crime, why aren’t the laws equally applied to every sub-section of the community proven to be involved in criminal activity?
The reason is that the “bikie laws” are not primarily about stopping crime. They are laws about social control. They are about instilling fear into Queenslanders that if you step out of arbitrary behaviour patterns endorsed by Newman and his crewmen, if you depart from socially acceptable conformist views, you will be targeted. Like the vast majority of bikies, you won’t have to be involved in crime, you won’t have to have any previous record. You just have to be a little “different”.
Then, you will be judged on your friends, your family, what you wear, where your work, your hobby and your heritage. Soon, the bell tolls for the bikies: but they will be just the first.
And so, 1 July 2014 marks the death of freedom in Queensland.
|From the Queensland Police Service website:
How to disassociate from a Criminal Motorcycle Gang
From July 1, 2014, the licensing requirements in a number of industries will change and active members, or associates, of declared criminal organisations (including Criminal Motorcycle Gangs) will be prohibited from gaining licences to work in those selected industries.
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has introduced a process where people can disassociate from a Criminal Motorcycle Gang (CMG).
Those wishing to disassociate and show they no longer have links to a CMG should complete a Disassociation Declaration or a Statutory Declaration.
The Disassociation Declaration is located at https://www.police.qld.gov.au/corporatedocs/form/Documents/Dec-of-Disassociation.pdf;
The completed form, and associated documents, should then be either emailed to QPolCrimOrg@police.qld.gov.au, posted to QPS State Intelligence, GPO Box 1440, Brisbane Q 4001 or handed in at any police station or police beat.
Once received by QPS, the completed declaration of disassociation will be noted and taken into account should the QPS have cause to assess your status as a participant in a criminal organisation as required by law or otherwise.
Unfortunately, we believe there is no form available to Queenslanders to enable them to dissociate themselves from the Newman government’s excessive laws.