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QUEENSLAND’S tough anti-bikie legislation will be overhauled, with anti-association laws that prevented gang members from gathering to be axed.
The change could mean bikies without convictions could once again meet and ride together.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath yesterday confirmed the Government was considering changes to the former Newman government’s laws.
She said that this included scrapping and replacing the VLAD legislation and ditching anti-association laws in favour of NSW’s anti-consorting legislation.
“We will move from anti-association provisions to targeted consorting laws,” Ms D’Ath said.
“The taskforce have been very clear that the anti-association laws as they exist currently are flawed and seriously at risk of constitutional challenge.”
Under the NSW model, bikies can only be stopped from associating if they have been convicted of an offence first.
Queensland police, however, wanted the anti-association elements to stay – many bikie gang members who exist higher up in the organisation are “clean skins”, with no prior convictions.
The state plans to extend the current ban on wearing colours beyond licensed premises and will maintain mandatory sentencing as part of its regime, despite last year ruling it out.
New control orders for organised crime participants will also be introduced, which will place restrictions on convicted bikies and other criminals including preventing them from associating. Ms D’Ath warned gang members against anticipating an easy ride.
“I want to make it very clear for those outlaw motorcycle gangs and criminals out there, who think that the doors are going to be reopened – not only are they closed, but we’re wedging them shut,” she declared.
The VLAD laws, and the contentious tough mandatory sentencing provisions, will be scrapped and replaced with an alternative sentencing scheme proposed by police, including Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett, Taskforce Maxima and the Queensland Police Union.
Under that scheme, a bikie found guilty of certain offences could earn a maximum of an extra 15 years in jail if they do not co-operate.
Under the current VLAD laws, certain gang members face sentences up to 25 years.
The police submission is one of three options on the table for the Government to consider in replacing VLAD.
Ms Palaszczuk insisted that the scheme her Government will eventually implement would be tougher than those that already exist, despite being unclear on the anti-association changes.
“I believe these will be the benchmark of laws that other states will follow. The former laws, parts of them worked, parts of them didn’t.”
The taskforce that prepared the key report that will largely inform the Government’s response made 60 recommendations, with many aimed at handing power back to the courts.
But the Premier yesterday stressed her Cabinet was still in the process of reviewing the vast majority of them and was yet to decide which ones would be accepted.
She expected the new laws would be introduced by August and passed by the end of the year.
Acting Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek slam–med the report and the Government’s response:
“Rather than watering down the VLAD Act, Labor is scrapping it altogether and putting Queenslanders’ safety at risk.”