Hands off bikie laws, police warn politicians ahead of state election
- The Courier-Mail
- January 05, 2015
Ahead of the next state election, police have warned any move to roll back the anti-bikie legislation could see the gangs stage a comeback.
Labor has already vowed to review the laws immediately should it win government, repealing and replacing them with “workable laws” they say will protect innocent people.
The LNP is committed to maintaining them until at least 2016 when they must be reviewed.
The Queensland Police Union said any attempt to wind back the laws would plunge Queensland back into chaos and lawlessness.
“These laws are good, they work and finally criminals are avoiding Queensland at all costs and the Gold Coast is once again a family-friendly Mecca, thanks to our lobbying for this legislation and the great work of police,” QPU president Ian Leavers said.
Police said the laws had played an important part in cleaning up the streets.
“While it will be all good from a police perspective to lay claim to the success in relation to the criminal motorcycle gang problem, the reality is you can’t do it without the legislation,’’ Gold Coast Superintendent Jim Keogh, who leads the Gold Coast’s anti-bikie taskforce, said.
“This legislation has been obviously the right legislation and it’s withstood the test of time and it’s proven to have cleaned up the street. Bottom line is, why change something that’s working?
“As it stands currently, should you remove the legislation, you would see the return of the organised criminal motorcycle gangs. It would be foolhardy to think that they’ve totally walked away from a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise.”
The contentious laws are shaping as a key issue in the election, which could be called within weeks.
The Courier-Mail revealed last week that the Government was pushing ahead with the next phase of its bikie crackdown, rolling out a new licensing system for tradies which could see them lose their licence if they don’t renounce all ties to bikie gangs.
New statistics show that since the Newman Government’s laws were introduced in October 2013, more than 1706 people considered “criminal gang participants” have been arrested on more than 4710 charges.
About 80 people arrested on 120 charges have been alleged to be a Vicious Lawless Associate under the VLAD sentencing regime, meaning if found guilty they could face an extra 15 to 25 years’ jail added to their sentence.
Taskforce Maxima’s Detective Superintendent Mick Niland said police were determined to continue putting pressure on the gangs.
“As a result of the actions we have taken we have made it a very uncomfortable place to do organised crime in Queensland,” he said.
“We have seen the shutdown of the clubhouses. We’ve had over 317 disassociations (of gang members from gangs) to date. There has been no increase in (bikie) numbers in Queensland.
“It’s very important to keep the pressure on. The way we go about our business and our taskforces, our approach has to be relentless and just continuous because if you release that pressure valve, we would see an increase in numbers again.”
A recent Galaxy poll showed voter support for the laws had increased since a High Court decision to reject a challenge against them, up from 48 per cent support in February last year to 60 per cent in November.
Acting Attorney-General John McVeigh said the government remained committed.
“We’ve made good progress but the job isn’t done and the Government and police will work together to keep crime gangs from regaining a foothold,” he said.
A spokesman for the Opposition said: “A Labor Government will review the laws and replace them with workable laws that don’t target innocent Queenslanders”.
Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk told State Parliament last March the ALP was working on its own anti-bikie laws with the intention of repealing and replacing the existing ones.
It is unclear if they would retain the anti-association aspects of the laws, similar to those the former Labor government launched in 2009.
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HISTORY OF THE ANTI-BIKIE LAWS:
*SEPTEMBER 27, 2013: A massive brawl involving Bandidos and Finks erupts at a Broadbeach restaurant and bikies later storm a Gold Coast police station demanding the release of their comrades.
* OCTOBER 16, 2013: The LNP Government passes its Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act 2013, effective immediately.
* OCTOBER 18, 2013: Two Odins Warriors members who meet at a clubhouse in Cairns are the first people arrested under the law.
* NOVEMBER 1, 2013: The Yandina 5 (later to become 7) are arrested at a pub, sparking outrage over the laws.
* DECEMBER 4, 2013: Bikies begin a High Court appeal against the laws.
*NOVEMBER 14, 2014: The High Court rules against the appeal.