OPINION: Crime will keep rolling along despite LNP Government putting brakes on ideals of justice and democracy
- The Courier-Mail
- January 24, 2014
If wise old Ben was on the money, more than a few members of the Queensland Government might pay handsomely for their education.
Youth, narrow career paths or limited life experience seem to have left Premier Campbell Newman, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, and his understudy David Crisafulli ill-prepared to fully understand what they have unleashed with their ridiculous anti-bikie laws. And each seems patently unaware of the principles involved.
Each in his own way has mouthed the spin that the union movement has gone to war in support of bikies.
In truth, the Queensland Council of Unions has offered moral support and the Electrical Trades Union and the Maritime Union of Australia have given fairly minuscule financial backing for a High Court challenge to the discriminatory legislation.
They are not supporting bikies. They are supporting union members who might be alienated, disenfranchised, unregistered, delicensed and cast into unemployment if the Government decides they are lesser citizens because they may be, or once may have been, bikies.
The ETU is involved because its members are specifically under threat from bikie law-related amendments to the Electrical Safety Act.
The MUA is involved because it knows what it is to be targeted by a vindictive government and, well, it quite likes a bit of aggro.
If supporting a High Court challenge against such arbitrary workplace injustice is not a legitimate cause for unionism, I'm not quite sure what is.
In truth, I'm surprised that all unions, legal bodies and other groups are not queuing up to bankroll this challenge or offering their professional services pro bono to defeat laws that are anathema to our very ideals of justice and democracy.
I'm amazed there is such little historical awareness that the discriminatory removal of civil rights (even illusory rights) is a trademark of repressive regimes of the far right and the extreme left.
It seems the horny hand of labour might be left to do the heavy lifting in the cause of justice while others stroke their beards and harrumph in a meaningful fashion.
The union movement is a pitiful shadow of its former self, boasting no more than 1.9 million members nationwide (but still infinitely more than all our political parties combined).
Various unions have been exposed at times as fronts for everything from communism to far-right fanaticism, they have nurtured crooks, thieves and political standover merchants, they have franchised crime and they have been criminal organisations themselves.
But, in general, they have done good things for their members and for Australia.
They do not deserve general denigration from high, any more than do the entire political process, professional bodies, trade associations and fraternal organisations, all of which have at times harboured rogues and scoundrels.
Ascribing the worst of motives to the best of intentions seems to have become part of the Australian political landscape in recent times.
But the Queensland Government has backed itself into a corner where it can defend its laws only by denigrating its opponents and belittling the judicial system, which is our protection against arbitrary and discriminatory process.
In the process, it is losing sight of the fact that it may have wielded a sledgehammer to crack a nut that is nothing but an empty shell.
A sobering analysis of the laws from Bond University academic Professor Terry Goldsworthy (himself a former cop of 28 years' experience) concludes there is no major evidence bikie gangs play an overwhelming role in organised crime in Australia.
Of 817 charges laid as part of Operation Resolute, only 28 could be considered "organised crime'' and bikies counted for only 1 per cent of the 73,309 offences reported in October and November.
Of the 384 bikies arrested, only 1.5 per cent were charged under anti-bikie laws. The vast majority were charged for individual actions and not as part of a criminal conspiracy. You can find it all at theconversation.com and are free to conclude that the laws were not really necessary to crack down on bikies (or anyone else).
The end of bikies would not mean the end of crime, so we might soon be in search of new targets to declare as non citizens.
In the meantime we are left with a ludicrous situation in which bottle shop attendants are supposed to instantly recognise outlaw club colours like schoolboys with a plane-spotter chart.
Yet the online video world was treated to an overkill of police officers apparently unaware that the club emblems worn by a mouthy bike rider were not those of a proscribed organisation.
If some people thought about it, they might not be so quick to criticise unions who are taking up the cudgels on behalf of all us, even the sleepily apathetic and the blindly antagonistic.