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SA Government removes 17 interstate gangs from
controversial bikies bill
By political reporter Angelique Donnellan
Updated about an hour ago
RELATED STORY: Anti-bikie legislation amended before it reaches SA ParliamentRELATED STORY: Proposed anti-bikie laws similar to anti-terrorism measures, SA attorney-general says
The South Australian Government and Opposition have reached a compromise to abandon plans to declare 17 interstate gangs as criminal organisations in its controversial bikies bill.
The interstate groups, originally listed in the laws to prevent them moving into the state, have been removed from a list of 27.
Gangs deleted from the bill include the Iron Horsemen, Fourth Reich, Outcasts, Coffin Cheaters and Muslim Brotherhood.
Attorney-General John Rau said the changes were a compromise in order to win Opposition support and give the bill its best chance of passing through Parliament.
Let's remember the names that have been removed aren't here, so those names do not presently represent any danger at all to the South Australian community.
"I've attempted to find an intermediate course
where we get for the people of South Australia what the Police Commissioner
absolutely requires, which is currently resident groups," Mr Rau said.
"We leave consideration of other groups, who quite frankly are not here yet, for the point in time if and when they turn up."
He said the Government was putting an alternative on the table for the Opposition to consider which would give "at least 95 per cent of what the police regard as important up".
"Let's remember the names that have been removed aren't here, so those names do not presently represent any danger at all to the South Australian community," Mr Rau said.
"They are a potential risk in the future, but the bill can already deal with new entrants into the system by way of regulation."
Mr Rau previously argued the 17 interstate gangs needed to be declared criminal organisations to prevent them moving into South Australia.
The spelling in the bill of the Comancheros and Gypsy Jokers has also been altered, with the S deleted from the end of both names.
It is not the first time the Government has had to change its bikies bill.
Last month two locations specified in the legislation were removed because bikies no longer met there.
Under the proposed laws, it would be illegal for bikie groups to recruit members or for members to be out in public with two or more others from their group.
They would be banned from entering licensed premises wearing club colours or logos and precluded from meeting at the listed locations.
Ten gangs in South Australia would be declared criminal organisations.
Process offends long-standing principles of law: MP
Liberals have confirmed they will support the amended piece of legislation to get the bill through Parliament by tomorrow.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said the party was not divided over the laws despite Upper House Liberal MP Andrew McLachlan revealing he plans to cross the floor on the issue.
"In the first instance the Government wanted to rush this through in a couple of days. By putting it through improved scrutiny we've come up with a better piece of legislation and we're going to be supporting it this evening," Mr Marshall said.
We are being asked to suspend our skills and experience as legislators and ban organisations based on the untested assertions contained in a secret police file and reviewed by one member of this Parliament.
Liberal MP Andrew McLachlan
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr McLachlan said he believed the bill would "take away the role of the courts in the assessment of what organisations are criminal and which are not".
"I'm a longstanding lawyer and a member of the Law Society and I don't believe that the separation of powers should be breached and the Parliament should act like a court," he said.
Mr McLachlan said the bill lacked transparency which was unacceptable.
"What we do not accept is that the Attorney-General should alone, in a process which lacks transparency and which is unable to be reviewed by a judge, decide that certain organisations should be declared illegal and then seek Parliament's agreement to his decision by passing this legislation, without the benefit of the same information," Mr McLachlan said.
"We are being asked to suspend our skills and experience as legislators and ban organisations based on the untested assertions contained in a secret police file and reviewed by one member of this Parliament.
"This is unacceptable. This should be unacceptable to every member of this chamber who takes seriously their oath of office.
"The process that is set out in this bill offends long-standing principles of law that protect the rights of the individual against arbitrary acts of the government.
"Despite the protestations of the Attorney-General, the Government has not made a convincing case for the introduction of this legislation or its impact on criminal motorcycle clubs.
"If history is to be any guide, this bill will only have a limited impact if enacted, but at the cost of irreparable damage to the democratic fabric of our community. I look forward to continuing to debate this bill at the committee stage."