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SA’s top lawyer to help Queensland defend High Court bikie challenge

SOUTH Australia will dispatch its Solicitor-General, Martin Hinton QC, to help defend a Hell’s Angel-led High Court challenge against Queensland’s anti-bike laws, amid fears the case could have significant ramifications for the state’s own anti-association regime.

Seven judges of the High Court will sit in Brisbane this week to consider a challenge to more than a dozen sections of the Queensland anti-bike laws.

It is part of a challenge by Hells Angel Stefan Kuczborski that has backing of the state’s United Motorcycle Council.

The Vicious Lawless Association De-establishment legislation imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment with no parole on criminals who commit “declared” offences and are unable to prove the group they belong to is not established for organised crime.

Other new laws ban members of organisations declared by the government to be criminal from gathering together in public places. Anyone who displays their membership of a declared group, including by wearing colours, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of six months’ jail.

Mr Kuczborski’s challenge centres on the claim that the laws undermine a constitutionally-protected independence and impartiality of courts of law, a similar argument to that which led to the rewriting of SA’s laws following a successful bikie-led challenge in 2010.

SA Attorney-General John Rau was forced to rewrite his government’s laws to give the courts more discretion and remove politicians from the process of declaring outlaw gangs.

SA, NSW, WA, Victoria and the NT are all supporting Queensland’s laws and some have indicated they will consider toughening their existing regimes if the challenge is defeated.

SA’s Acting Attorney-General Ian Hunter said the state was prepared to consider changing its laws if regulations in other parts of the country were shown to be effective and legal.

“A ruling against the validity of the Queensland laws may have implications for South Australia’s current legislation, therefore it is in our interest to provide whatever support is necessary to the Queensland Government on this issue,” he told The Advertiser.

“The Solicitor General will be attending the High Court to argue the case on behalf of SA.

“SA has been a leader when it comes to laws that target outlaw motorcycle gangs and we will continue to work with the other States on a collaborative approach.

“We will also continue to observe the effectiveness of other states’ laws targeting criminal gangs.

“If certain measures are proven to be particularly effective, we will consider adopting them.”

SA has already followed one controversial Queensland anti-bikie measure and promised during the state election campaign to ban gang members and associates from operating tattoo parlours.

The legislation is yet to be passed by State Parliament.

SA is also assisting to defend a separate High Court challenge against NSW’s bikie laws that would make it easier to punish gang members who have “habitual” contact with each other.