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Bikie gangs 'still recruiting' on Gold Coast, CCC head tells parliament

 
Amy Remeikis
Amid intelligence that outlaw motorcycle gangs were still recruiting on the Gold Coast, the head of the state's crime watchdog said it would lobby for more powers, if proposed changes to the Newman government bikie laws hindered its ability to tackle organised crime.

Labor had vowed to repeal the Newman government laws while in opposition. However, after the LNP removed some of the suite of legislation's most controversial measures  such as pink jumpsuits and solitary confinement  Labor softened its approach to a review, as public sentiment turned in support of the laws. 

Ther head of the Crime and Corruption Commission told the estimates hearing the bikie situation at the Gold Coast was ...

The head of the Crime and Corruption Commission told the estimates hearing the bikie situation at the Gold Coast was being monitored. Photo: Paul Rovere

Following that review, Labor announced it would repeal and replace further measures, including the association laws, giving more powers back to the courts.  

The LNP immediately criticised the move as "opening up the doors" for the return of criminal motorcycle gangs, to which the government responded they had never gone away, only driven further underground.

Crime and Corruption Commission chair Alan MacSporran, who had previously submitted to the government review into the bikie laws that outlaw motorcycle gangs were "positioning themselves to take control of turf" if they perceived the laws were being softened, told a parliamentary estimates hearing the situation was being monitored.

"As I said, there is no intelligence that would allow us to draw conclusions sensibly about the reason for what looks like an initiative to recruit and reform," he said.

"As I said, we haven't lost sight of it, as to what the new laws will allow us to do by way of enforcement and investigation in that space remains to be seen. 

"What I can say to assure the committee and the public of Queensland is that whatever those laws, we are bound to enforce them, and if there is ultimately a difficulty in controlling any part of organised crime through the OMCGs with those powers, or the lack of them, if that's the perception or the reality, we'd be the first to make that known to the Attorney and more generally to our oversight committee. 

"So it's not as though we're going to be 'stuck with something' as it were, that doesn't work. 

"If there's ultimately a concern based on evidence, if there is a gap in the legislation that constrains our powers to deal with those groups, or any group in the organised crime space, we'd be able to, and very ready to express that view so that it can be addressed in whatever way the government considers appropriate."

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said while tackling the illegal activities of bikie gangs was important, outlaw motorcycle gangs accounted for 1 per cent of crime, and crime fighters also needed to focus their resources and attentions to other crimes, such as child pornography and molestation. 

Estimate hearings will continue into next week.

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