Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Disorder over the Border.

There's a battle going on over the Queensland border at the moment, at issue are things like right to free association, right to due process, right to fair trail and all sorts of other things. Premier Campbell Newman and his chief attack puppy Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, have decided to declare war on "the bikies". "Bikies", "One Percenters", "Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs" (it's only police and politicians that call them "gangs") are a good high profile target because they're big, and scary and tattooed and ride loud motorcycles. Allegedly. Now, just for the record here, I'm not denying that some members get involved in nefarious activities and really are scary but despite all the millions of dollars spent around the world I've yet to see any proof the main purpose, or even minor purpose, of these clubs is as a conduit for organised crime (and personally, having ridden bikes for well over 30 years "organised" is not a description I'd apply to many motorcyclists). There has been quite a few successful cases against individual members but not against the clubs as an entity (either they're criminal masterminds smarter than the Mafia and Triads or they really aren't that organised). But despite that the Newman Government rushed through a number of bills ostensibly to ban the bikie menace, now without going too much into it (as I've only glanced through the legislation and there are others better qualified at law than I am currently sifting through it), is that "bikies" and their "associates" pretty much lose their right to free association, will find it much harder to get bail, if found guilty of an offence (including ones which don't apply to non "bikies"), will be thrown into virtual solitary confinement in a dedicated "bikie" gaol and be forced to serve extra time just because they are a "bikie" or an "associate". The "associate" thing is a very broad and catch all concept which means that if you have attended more than one "bikie" organised event (as I have, I've been to bike shows and concerts) you can then be classified as an "associate". Wonderful huh? I'm now apparently an enemy of the state of Queensland. Middle aged bloke, paying off a house, one cat, one car, a few bikes, member of his local fire brigade, one court appearance for a traffic matter 30 years ago (thrown out due to lack of evidence from the police - I fell off the bike in the wet on a notoriously diesel slicked corner and went to hospital to get checked out, that was it, big crim). Now, having rushed through this essential legislation, lets see what the current Attorney-General said in 2009. Queensland - Parliamentary Debates – Wednesday, 25 November 2009 Comments from the current Attorney-General, Mr Jarrod Bleijie, on the proposed Criminal Association Bill proposed by the Labor Government. In light of his draconian anti-bikie laws passed early today, 16 October 2013, these quotes make hilarious reading and display this hypocritical man in his true light – keen on misleading the public and back-flipping on fundamental values at a whim and squeeze of his balls. "70 per cent of LNP members are on the list to speak." – AGAINST anti-bikie laws (Page 3619) "The fact that there have been so many arrests indicates that existing laws are sufficient without the need to enact laws aimed directly at bikie gangs. We do not need to enact laws aimed directly at bikie gangs or other groups, but we do need to give more resources, more funding and more support to our police officers." (Page 3621) "While I agree that people need to be protected from organised crime, there must also be the protection of personal liberties such as the freedom of association. The Premier and the Minister for Police, Corrective Services and Emergency Services have stated that people who do the right thing have nothing to fear. I will repeat that: people who do the right thing have nothing to fear. I say to the people of Queensland that, with this government, they do have something to fear. This bill encroaches on their personal freedoms and liberties. A government that tries to remove these freedoms and liberties is a government that is to be feared." (Page 3621) "This bill is an attack on the right of freedom of association. While it is currently intended for motorcycle gangs, once again this bill does not mention the term ‘bikie’ or ‘motorcycle gangs’, and this piece of legislation could be used against any group that may fall into disfavour regardless of the purpose of their gathering." (Page 3621) "Another essential freedom and one that goes to the heart of our legal system is the right to a fair trial. Every person in Queensland, regardless of whether they are part of organised crime, has the right to a fair trial. In effect, this bill removes that right. It removes the rule of evidence. It lowers the standard of the burden of proof that is ordinarily required in criminal proceedings from being beyond reasonable doubt to the standard that is required in civil proceedings. It allows for the employment of people in certain occupations to be refused merely on the reliance of criminal intelligence without them even having a conviction of a criminal offence. This bill denies the rules of natural justice. It introduces anti-association laws." (Page 3621) "We are talking about tampering with people’s rights to associate. That could be broadly interpreted. How can we place control orders on someone who may be innocently associating with others who may be conspiring in a criminal activity and they have no idea, but we are going to punish them?" (Page 3622) "Here we have the Labor government trying to enact a bill that will erode the right of freedom of association that could result in the prosecution of people based on race, ethnicity or membership of a social group and that seeks to be a one-size-fits-all, knee-jerk response. That is not the answer to the complex problem of organised crime." (Page 3622) "The issue here should not be about the associations of individuals, it should be about the crimes committed. If I look at all those people I have just mentioned and look across the table here, one could potentially argue that the Queensland Labor Party is a serious criminal organisation because five of its members are in jail, have served jail or are currently before the CMC and there are certainly those on that side of the House who have associated with them." (Page 3623) "I challenge the members opposite to not simply toe the party line but to come on this side and support the right to freedom of association in this state." (Page 3623) Either he was wrong then or he's wrong now. And just in case you don't think it can affect you the list of "criminal" organisations is contained in the regulations rather than the legislation which means they are declared by the Minister rather than by an act of parliament. How long before "The Wildeness Society" or the "Lock the Gate Alliance" or the "Cunnamulla Country Womens Association" get declared. Can't happen? Wouldn't bet on it.

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