One thing should not change: the VLAD laws
- The Courier-Mail
- April 04, 2015
There was one issue Annastacia Palaszczuk’s new leadership team was keen to move on, however – a review of the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws introduced by the previous Newman government to tackle the scourge of outlaw bikie gangs.
The membership and terms of reference for the taskforce which will examine the legislation is still being drawn up.
However, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath has made it plain the government wants to see two of the key measures, mandatory sentences and anti-association provisions, dropped.
But recent events should send a strong message to Ms D’Ath and her colleagues that they need to throttle back any enthusiasm for weakening the anti-bikie laws.
A late-night raid on Thursday at a building on an industrial estate at Burleigh on the Gold Coast exposed what police say was a covert clubhouse being operated by the Hells Angels.
The notorious gang had been forced to shut down and leave their longtime compound 16 months ago when it, like all other bikie gang headquarters, were declared “prescribed premises’’ under the legislation.
But officers say the apparent business premises busted this week hid an elaborate clubhouse, complete with bar facilities, pool table and Hells Angels memorabilia, and from which they seized large quantities of ice and ecstasy.
Police say the discovery indicates the gang is seeking to reclaim territory on the coast.
Just 10 days ago, police raided properties, including two in Ms D’Ath’s own Redcliffe electorate, and arrested Rebels bikie gang members they allege were recruiting to establish a new chapter in Moreton Bay.
The government promised the existing laws would continue to be enforced while the review is completed, with a report expected by the end of this year.
But these recent events clearly indicate the bikie gang culture is determinedly resilient and more than ready to test the resolve of the new regime.
It requires continuous vigilance to keep the threat at bay.
The laws introduced by the previous government gave authorities and courts the powers and tools they needed to do that.
The arrest of 400 criminal motorcycle gang members on the Gold Coast alone in the first 15 months of the laws contributed strongly to a 15 per cent drop in crime.
Police are justifiably wary of any moves to remove or dilute them and all Queenslanders who value safer communities share those concerns.
Voters reacted strongly against many things the Newman government did.
But the tough anti-bikie gang measures were not among them.