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Queensland laws on bikie gangs and sex offenders will fail: Tony Fitzgerald

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THE man who presided over Queensland's historic corruption inquiry has launched a scathing attack on the Newman government's bikie and sex offender laws.

Tony Fitzgerald QC has warned Queenslanders not to be duped by laws he views as dangerous.

This month, the government gave itself the power to bypass the courts and keep some sex offenders in jail indefinitely.

Parliament also passed new laws that mean judges must now impose two sentences on criminal bikie gang members who commit a serious crime - one for the crime itself and another for being part of a declared criminal gang.

Mr Fitzgerald says Queenslanders should understand the gravity of the laws, which he warns are likely to fail.

New laws will fail, Fitzgerald says
 

"History teaches us that claims that repressive laws will reduce serious crime are usually hollow and that laws which erode individual freedom and expand a state's power over its citizens are fraught with peril," he writes in an opinion piece in The Courier-Mail.

He says parliament could chose to enact any law.

But parliamentarians "don't have a 'mandate' to give effect to prejudices and ill-informed opinions, ignore ethics and conventions or attack fundamental values such as personal freedom or essential institutions such as the judiciary".

Mr Fitzgerald says both sets of laws are populist and suggests they exploit the fears of less-educated Queenslanders.

He cites Wikipedia's definition for a demagogue, saying it provides an uncomfortable insight into modern politics.

"A demagogue ... is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives."

Mr Fitzgerald is also scathing about how the government has handled concern about its laws.

Last week, Premier Campbell Newman called critics of the sex offender laws "apologists" for pedophiles.

"It is extremely arrogant and socially destructive for politicians to slander citizens who disagree with their 'political solution' or to denigrate the judicial branch of government and its generally conservative judges, who must make sometimes unpopular decisions in accordance with the law and available evidence and their oath of office," Mr Fitzgerald writes.

"And it is incomprehensible that any rational Queenslander who is even remotely aware of the state's recent history could for a moment consider reintroducing political interference into the administration of criminal justice, even to the point of making decisions about incarceration."

Mr Fitzgerald said he wrote the piece as a private citizen who was not aligned with any political party.

"I am a private citizen who has noticed that more problems are solved by thoughtful discussion than political grandstanding and personal abuse," he said.

The premier's office declined to directly address Mr Fitzgerald's criticisms today.

A spokesman for Mr Newman said the government was simply delivering on its plan to make Queensland safe.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/queensland-laws-on-bikie-gangs-and-sex-offenders-will-fail-tony-fitzgerald/story-e6frgczx-1226748089355#sthash.sNKVnMFQ.dpuf

Queensland laws on bikie gangs and sex offenders will fail: Tony Fitzgerald

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To get going, simply connect with your favourite social network:

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THE man who presided over Queensland's historic corruption inquiry has launched a scathing attack on the Newman government's bikie and sex offender laws.

Tony Fitzgerald QC has warned Queenslanders not to be duped by laws he views as dangerous.

This month, the government gave itself the power to bypass the courts and keep some sex offenders in jail indefinitely.

Parliament also passed new laws that mean judges must now impose two sentences on criminal bikie gang members who commit a serious crime - one for the crime itself and another for being part of a declared criminal gang.

Mr Fitzgerald says Queenslanders should understand the gravity of the laws, which he warns are likely to fail.

New laws will fail, Fitzgerald says
 

"History teaches us that claims that repressive laws will reduce serious crime are usually hollow and that laws which erode individual freedom and expand a state's power over its citizens are fraught with peril," he writes in an opinion piece in The Courier-Mail.

He says parliament could chose to enact any law.

But parliamentarians "don't have a 'mandate' to give effect to prejudices and ill-informed opinions, ignore ethics and conventions or attack fundamental values such as personal freedom or essential institutions such as the judiciary".

Mr Fitzgerald says both sets of laws are populist and suggests they exploit the fears of less-educated Queenslanders.

He cites Wikipedia's definition for a demagogue, saying it provides an uncomfortable insight into modern politics.

"A demagogue ... is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives."

Mr Fitzgerald is also scathing about how the government has handled concern about its laws.

Last week, Premier Campbell Newman called critics of the sex offender laws "apologists" for pedophiles.

"It is extremely arrogant and socially destructive for politicians to slander citizens who disagree with their 'political solution' or to denigrate the judicial branch of government and its generally conservative judges, who must make sometimes unpopular decisions in accordance with the law and available evidence and their oath of office," Mr Fitzgerald writes.

"And it is incomprehensible that any rational Queenslander who is even remotely aware of the state's recent history could for a moment consider reintroducing political interference into the administration of criminal justice, even to the point of making decisions about incarceration."

Mr Fitzgerald said he wrote the piece as a private citizen who was not aligned with any political party.

"I am a private citizen who has noticed that more problems are solved by thoughtful discussion than political grandstanding and personal abuse," he said.

The premier's office declined to directly address Mr Fitzgerald's criticisms today.

A spokesman for Mr Newman said the government was simply delivering on its plan to make Queensland safe.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/queensland-laws-on-bikie-gangs-and-sex-offenders-will-fail-tony-fitzgerald/story-e6frgczx-1226748089355#sthash.sNKVnMFQ.dpuf

Queensland laws on bikie gangs and sex offenders will fail: Tony Fitzgerald

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Hi D Discover news with your friends. Give it a try.
To get going, simply connect with your favourite social network:

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THE man who presided over Queensland's historic corruption inquiry has launched a scathing attack on the Newman government's bikie and sex offender laws.

Tony Fitzgerald QC has warned Queenslanders not to be duped by laws he views as dangerous.

This month, the government gave itself the power to bypass the courts and keep some sex offenders in jail indefinitely.

Parliament also passed new laws that mean judges must now impose two sentences on criminal bikie gang members who commit a serious crime - one for the crime itself and another for being part of a declared criminal gang.

Mr Fitzgerald says Queenslanders should understand the gravity of the laws, which he warns are likely to fail.

New laws will fail, Fitzgerald says
 

"History teaches us that claims that repressive laws will reduce serious crime are usually hollow and that laws which erode individual freedom and expand a state's power over its citizens are fraught with peril," he writes in an opinion piece in The Courier-Mail.

He says parliament could chose to enact any law.

But parliamentarians "don't have a 'mandate' to give effect to prejudices and ill-informed opinions, ignore ethics and conventions or attack fundamental values such as personal freedom or essential institutions such as the judiciary".

Mr Fitzgerald says both sets of laws are populist and suggests they exploit the fears of less-educated Queenslanders.

He cites Wikipedia's definition for a demagogue, saying it provides an uncomfortable insight into modern politics.

"A demagogue ... is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the less-educated citizens in order to gain power and promote political motives."

Mr Fitzgerald is also scathing about how the government has handled concern about its laws.

Last week, Premier Campbell Newman called critics of the sex offender laws "apologists" for pedophiles.

"It is extremely arrogant and socially destructive for politicians to slander citizens who disagree with their 'political solution' or to denigrate the judicial branch of government and its generally conservative judges, who must make sometimes unpopular decisions in accordance with the law and available evidence and their oath of office," Mr Fitzgerald writes.

"And it is incomprehensible that any rational Queenslander who is even remotely aware of the state's recent history could for a moment consider reintroducing political interference into the administration of criminal justice, even to the point of making decisions about incarceration."

Mr Fitzgerald said he wrote the piece as a private citizen who was not aligned with any political party.

"I am a private citizen who has noticed that more problems are solved by thoughtful discussion than political grandstanding and personal abuse," he said.

The premier's office declined to directly address Mr Fitzgerald's criticisms today.

A spokesman for Mr Newman said the government was simply delivering on its plan to make Queensland safe.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/queensland-laws-on-bikie-gangs-and-sex-offenders-will-fail-tony-fitzgerald/story-e6frgczx-1226748089355#sthash.sNKVnMFQ.dpuf

 

Queensland police raid recreational Vietnam and Veterans Motorcycle Club under anti-bikie laws

Updated 9 minutes ago

Queensland Police have for the first time targeted a recreational motorcycle club as part of the State Government's crackdown on so-called "outlaw" or "one-percenter" clubs.

The ABC can also reveal the state's police are preparing to extend their operations against 26 designated "criminal organisations" by prosecuting members for associating even in other Australian states.

Police plan to use section 12 of the Criminal Code, which covers crimes committed either partially or wholly in Queensland.

Bikie laws 'target club that isn't in Australia'


The anti-bikie laws name the Scorpions as a banned "criminal" group.

But experts have told the ABC while the club has several chapters in the US, there is no trace of it being in Australia.

The laws are also targeting a property near Brisbane that has not had any bikie connections for six years.

Read Mark Solomons' report here.

 

Senior officers say that if bikies meet in groups of three or more interstate all police need to do is get some recording of it, such as from a security camera at an airport, restaurant or service station, and if the bikies return to Queensland, they can be arrested and face up to three years in jail.

The raid on Friday night targeted the Vietnam and Veterans Motorcycle Club (VVMC) at its clubhouse at Kingston south of Brisbane.

Twenty officers from Road Policing Command and the QPS Taskforce Maxima anti-bikie group raided the club’s regular monthly "Bunker Bash" party.

The VVMC restricts membership to men who fought in Vietnam and ex-servicemen who hold an Active Service Medal.

Most of its members are in their 60s and 70s. The club is not on the list of 26 banned organisations included in the state's anti-bikie laws.

No-one was searched, arrested or cautioned during the raid, according to police. One man agreed to leave the premises in circumstances that are now in dispute.

Police say no-one was asked to leave. But the club's president and other witnesses said "Schultzy", a one-time president of the Life and Death motorcycle club’s Ipswich chapter, left because he was asked to do so by officers.

 

Under the new laws, licensed premises face fines of tens of thousands of dollars if they are caught serving anyone with visible signs of membership of one of the 26 banned clubs.

The VVMC had placed signs at the club entrance warning guests not to display anything linking them to "a declared criminal organisation".

 

ABC journalists who attended the club's compound just hours ahead of the raid witnessed the club asking people arriving about tattoos, rings, belt buckles and patches that might indicate membership of a "one percent" club.

VVMC president "Agro" said police had immediately recognised Schultzy because of his previous connection with Life and Death, which is on the Government's list.

"I said he’s not [a member any more]," Agro said.

"They say they believe he still is, so they asked him politely to leave and he said yes."

Agro told the ABC that the VVMC, established in Australia 25 years ago, had longstanding links and social connections to members of several "one-percenter" clubs including the Rebels, Odins Warriors and Life and Death. All three are on the Government’s banned list.

"We see them, we ride with them, we go on some of their rides with them and they go on some of our rides with us," he said.

"Whatever they do is up to them. We don’t ask them what they get up to when they’re out of here."

In a statement Queensland Police said the raid was "part of a strategy to develop a rapport with legitimate members of the motorcycle riding community in the interest of effective policing". 

It said police wanted to ensure "that criminal motorcycle gang members do not attempt to infiltrate legitimate motorcycle clubs such as the Vietnam and Veteran Motorcycle Club".

 

Agro denies that could happen to his club.

"I don't think the club could be infiltrated. They know who we are, we all fought for our country," he said.

Many recreational riders have been staying off their bikes since the laws took effect, despite a Government newspaper and radio advertising campaign reassuring them that they have nothing to fear.

At the Maiala Cafe on Mount Glorious in the D'Aguilar Ranges north-west of Brisbane, usually thronged with bikers each weekend, trade is down heavily.

"It’s never been this quiet in the three years I’ve been here," head barista Rhiannon Deacon said on Sunday.

"They're too scared to come up as groups." 

Do you know more about this story? Email investigations@abc.net.au

 

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