Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath seeks removal of mandatory sentencing from controversial VLAD bikie laws
- The Courier-Mail
- February 18, 2015
A TASKFORCE to be set up to review Queensland’s tough anti-bikie laws will be told mandatory sentencing is off the table as it works to review the contentious laws.
The Palaszczuk Government’s new Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath has been tasked with setting up the review into the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws introduced by the former Newman government in 2013 which currently include mandatory sentences of between 15 and 25 years for bikies found guilty of certain crimes who are also deemed vicious lawless associates by the court.
Ms D’Ath told The Courier-Mail that while the taskforce, which is due to report back by December, would be given the scope to decide what changes were needed, it would be told of Labor’s opposition to mandatory sentences and the current anti-association provisions.
“We do not support mandatory sentencing and we’ve made that clear and that is one area that we will be making clear to the taskforce that we want removed from these laws,” she said.
“We oppose the anti-association provisions as they currently exist. We have made it clear that we believe they target law-abiding citizens and we don’t support that.
“But the broader scope is there for the taskforce to recommend (any changes).
“There may be areas where they recommend that the laws don’t go far enough.
“We will look at what the taskforce recommends and make a decision at that time.”
The taskforce will also be asked to investigate the creation of a new chapter in the criminal code dealing with organised crime, another election commitment made by Labor last month.
“One of the directives to the taskforce will be to look at developing a new chapter to go into the criminal code that will create penalties for the most serious organised crime offences that will carry up to a life sentence,” Ms D’Ath said.
“We actually want to put in place harsher penalties but they are going to be targeted.”
But she guaranteed the current laws would remain and be enforced until new laws are introduced to replace them.
“It’s very important we provide that certainty and consistency to the police service who are fighting this on the front line and send a clear message to those engaging in criminal activity that these laws are still there and they will be enforced,” she said.
“It’s not about weakening them, it’s about making them better, more targeted to criminal organisations and organised crime.”
Ms D’Ath is also working on establishing Labor’s promised $6 million commission of inquiry into organised crime which will run in tandem with the bikie law review and is expected to take six months.
Apart from identifying the extent of organised crime in Queensland, the Attorney-General said she also hoped the commission of inquiry would look at police resourcing and identify any deficiencies and potentially further intelligence on how best to pursue the proceeds of crime.