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Peter Callaghan, head of Queensland Law and Justice Institute, slams new bikie laws

ALL Queenslanders should be concerned about a brazen gang that is emboldened by a pack mentality and flexing its power, without regard for the concerns of others.

We might also be concerned about the bikies.

Unlike the bikies, the first group is certain to get its own way. The Vicious Lawless Associates Disestablishment Bill will be passed by Parliament.

The measures contained in this Bill might be necessary or not. We could comment if we were allowed to see it in advance. But the process by which it will pass into law is alarming.

It will, apparently, become part of our law without disclosure, without public consultation, without input from people who could actually help make it work and after completely bypassing the parliamentary committee process.

This is good for lawyers - when governments make laws in this fashion, they create work for those who have to interpret and apply them. But it is a disaster for democracy.

Bikie or not? New laws defining the outlaws

State's Boy Wonder Robin the headlines

These laws are urgently needed, we are told, because this is nothing less than a war on bikies.

As in any war, truth is the first casualty. And it falls early, with the very exciting title of the Bill.

This title is being used to disguise content with implications far beyond anything to do with bikies. For example, it contains more provision for mandatory imprisonment - yet another attack on the concept of judicial discretion.

A responsible debate would involve questions about respect for the separation of powers, evidence proving the need for such a provision and whether any appeals against the inadequacy of sentences imposed on bikies have been lost.

Why are we are not going to have such a debate? At first, it might seem mysterious that the passage of this Bill should be attended by such subterfuge, arrogance and hubris. After all, given the size of the government's majority, we know they will get what they want.

But perhaps it is not so surprising after all. The prevailing attitude towards dissent and debate in Queensland has all the characteristics of bullying. As in the case of many bullies, there is always the suspicion that they are actually driven by fear and ignorance. And it is not fear of bikies. This is the behaviour of those who are afraid even to understand anything that might clash with their own agenda. And it is the ignorance of those so insecure that they choose to avoid hearing any suggestion that they might be wrong.

Peter Callaghan SC is the president of the Law & Justice Institute (Qld) Inc.