Hells Angel Stefan Kuczborski
Source: News Corp Australia
TWO of Australia’s most senior judges
have criticised the drafting of Queensland’s controversial
anti-bikie laws, during a challenge to the legislation
mounted by a Hells Angel.
The full bench of the High Court is sitting in
Brisbane today to hear tattooist and Hells Angels member Stefan
Kuczborski’s legal team argue that key planks of the Newman
government’s bikie crackdown are invalid.
Hells Angel Mr Kuczborski, who has not been
charged under the new laws and is represented by barrister Ken
Fleming QC, takes particular exception to the Vicious Lawless
Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD).
Both Chief Justice Robert French and Justice
Kenneth Hayne were critical today of the drafting and wording of
the VLAD Act, which was passed by Queensland’s parliament in
October last year after a bikie brawl on the Gold Coast.
Justice Hayne said the “colourful epithets”
were “distracting at best”, noting that the terms “vicious” and
“lawless” were not defined in the legislation.
“The drafting does obscure rather more than it
reveals,” Justice Hayne said of the legislation’s motive.
Chief Justice French added: “(It) distracts
Justice Hayne said he wondered who the reader
was intended to be.
As well as the VLAD Act, which imposes higher
penalties on members, office-bearers and participants of a
‘Vicious Lawless Association’ for certain declared offences, the
Newman government also made changes to the state’s century-old
Those changes mean a bikie, if they are a
participant of a criminal organisation — as declared by the
Queensland parliament — will be sentenced to more jail time than
an ordinary citizen found guilty of the same crimes.
Mr Fleming, on behalf of Mr Kuczborski, said
these provisions violated the principle of equality of justice.
“In simple terms, a person is subject to
additional penalties simply by being a participant in an
(organisation declared by the legislature),” he said.
“We say this result offends any meaningful
concept of justice.”
Mr Fleming said a declaration of criminality
of an organisation, such as the Hells Angels, should only be
done by a court.
For the parliament to do so, was an
“extraordinary” and “substantial impediment” to the
institutional integrity of the Queensland courts, he said.
Mr Fleming gave the example of the offence of
affray, or riot, which ordinarily carries a maximum penalty of
one year’s jail. For a participant of a criminal organisation
such as the Hells Angels, judges must now impose a mandatory
minimum jail sentence of six months’ imprisonment without
parole, with a maximum sentence of seven years’ jail.
Queensland solicitor-general Peter Dunning QC,
for the state government, rejected Mr Fleming’s arguments. He
said if an organisation was not involved in crime, it shouldn’t
be difficult for an accused person to mount such a defence in
And Mr Dunning also questioned whether Mr
Kuczborski had the legal standing to mount such a “hypothetical”
argument to the High Court, given he had not been charged under
In an interesting aside that demonstrates the
far-reaching nature of the legislative changes, Mr Dunning
confirmed to Justice Virginia Bell that if Mr Kuczborski and two
fellow Hells Angels turned up to the High Court today, knowing
each other would be there, they would be violating the law.