SA taxpayers to foot outlaw club’s $178k bill for 2010 High Court challenge over anti-bikie laws
- The Advertiser
- June 17, 2014
The Advertiser can today exclusively reveal outlaw gangs incurred $178,000 in legal bills fighting theirsuccessful 2010 High Court case against the state’s anti-bikie laws .
Former Premier Mike Rann’s controversial push to control the clubs unified, politicised and legalised his enemies — and has now left the public liable to repay their legal bills.
Today, a senior national office bearer of the Mongols gang told The Advertiser that the $178,000, taken from taxpayer funds, would be used to fight anti-bikie laws interstate.
He said the situation proved the government had “wasted money and won nothing”.
“Millions of dollars of taxpayer money has been spent, not just the $178,000 to cover our court costs,” he said.
“All those years compiling the history and putting it together before the court cases in the Magistrate Court, the Supreme Court and ultimately the High Court, and for what?
“The reality is the legislation backfired ... instead of breaking the gangs apart, we have never been closer (and) the Mongols now have a direct line into any bike club in the world.”
In 2010, SA’s bikie gangs — including the Finks, who later became the Mongols — formed a united front to challenge the state’s anti-association laws in the High Court.
The High Court ruled the laws obliged the state’s courts to impose control orders on bikies at the request of the Attorney-General and police, without any evidence being tendered.
In a 6-1 decision, it dubbed the legislation “constitutionally repugnant” and said it undermined the independence of judges and forced them to find guilt “based on assumptions”.
Under Australian law, the side that loses a High Court challenge is liable to pay the winner’s legal costs.
Following the defeat, Attorney-General John Rau said he “wouldn’t have the faintest idea” how much the government would have to pay the bikies.
A revamped version of the anti-association laws subsequently came into power, but the national office bearer said that did not justify the expenditure.
“The costs and the millions of dollars wasted would be so much more than most people realise ... the manpower alone would have cost a fortune,” he said.
“The government hired 12 crown solicitors just for this case (who) worked on just this for three years for not one result.”
He said public money should be spent on more important matters.
“The average man knows how tough it is to make ends meet,” he said.
“They don’t want millions of dollars wasted when there are so many more important areas for the money to be spent — schools and hospitals — not wasting money chasing bikers.
“People are bleeding and all our government is doing is wasting taxpayer money.”
In October last year,Finks nationwide — including many of the South Australian chapter’s 56 members — “patched over” to the Mongols .
Senior gang leadership claimed the move would reduce violence and restore “core values”, saying members had realised they needed to “change or die” .
Such claims were supported by the club’s voluntary removal of the fortifications surrounding its Thebarton headquarters , without a court order.
Meanwhile, SA chapter president Andrew Majchrak abandoned his challenge to a control order , under the subsequent legislation, that bans him from associating with fellow office-holder Mark Sandery.
Police and the government have repeatedly rubbished the Mongols’ claims of rehabilitation, saying senior membership was moving to SA to escape Queensland’s tough laws — allegations the club has denied.
Today, The Advertiser reported the Liquor Licensing Commission had refused the Mongols permission to become a registered incorporated body .
The national office bearer said allowing the club to “become legitimate” would have placed a requirement upon them to be “transparent” to authorities.
“Why would they not want us to be legitimate?” he said.
“They don’t want us to reform ... it suits the government agenda for us to be the bad guys — especially with the State Budget about to be handed down.”
He said the $178,000 would be used to cover legal bills and go into a “fighting fund” to challenge laws in Queensland and NSW.
“There is no value in (governments) pursuing this ... if a guy is breaking the law, they he will be caught and he will be charged — you don’t need a special bikie law for that,” he said.
“The courts have been tougher on bikers than they have on anyone else — we know that, we expect it.”
This afternoon, Mr Rau told The Advertiser that payment had been made, to the Mongols, in May.
“Cracking down on organised crime to ensure the safety of our community is a priority for the Government,” he said.
“Fighting legal challenges is every bit as important a part of this effort as policing and improving our legislation.
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”