Why LNP changed its tune over bikies after
originally opposing tough laws
October 18, 2013 2:48PM
IN the comfort of Parliament House, on level 6, Lawrence
Springborg asked the two bikies in front of him, ``If you're not
fighting about drugs, what are you fighting about?''
``Bitches,'' one of them replied.
The Outlaw and Hells Angel went on to explain to the then
deputy Opposition leader that people - mostly other bikies - who
failed to show respect felt the wrath of the gangs.
Months after cuts were made, the crime watchdog is getting a
seven million dollar boost to help the crackdown on bikies
The impromptu meeting in November 2009 was sparked after
scores of bikies descended on Parliament House to protest the
``draconian'' anti-association laws being introduced by then
Premier Anna Bligh.
Mr Springborg, now the Newman Government's Health Minister,
sent for representatives of the heavily-tattooed and
leather-clad men who had packed the public gallery.
Details can be revealed about the meeting with Mr Springborg,
who didn't flinch as then Outlaw bikie Russell "Camel" Wattie
and Hells Angel Mark Nelms vented their frustration about police
``kicking down their doors'' and Ms Bligh's tough new laws.
Mr Springborg asked them whether they were carrying out
illegal practices at their club houses.
Police have continued their crackdown on outlaw motorcycle
clubs, arresting four people in relation to unlawful debt
``Do you think I'm f***ing stupid?'' Nelms asked.
``If we were going to conduct criminal activity do you think
I'd do it in a place that gets raided by the police every
It is understood Mr Springborg implied the Coalition would
not support the Bligh government's laws but would come down hard
on any criminal enterprise. The laws passed but not with
The then Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek, who was not
at the meeting, said at the time that the Government's proposed
laws gave police too much power.
``The police here have said `we won't abuse the laws', now
that's not exactly a ringing endorsement. If you give anybody
too much power there will always be someone in the organisation
who will abuse it,'' he said at the time.
However, he also stressed the Coalition would targeted
organised criminals and strip them of their finances.
This week, Mr Springborg, Mr Langbroek and the rest of the
Liberal National Party voted for the Vicious Lawless Association
Disestablishment Bill 2013 - the toughest bikie laws in
Ironically, bikies this week have began dismantling their
clubhouses - the very places they are least likely to carry out
criminal offences - in an apparent sign of defeat.
Law enforcement agencies believe it will take a lot more to
rid outlaw motorcycle gangs and concede they may never win the
Regardless for bikies'penchant for drugs, violence, and human
trafficking, lawyers have been left startled by the extreme
Peter Callaghan, SC, said the way the Government was wielding
power was ``genuinely frightening''.
Mr Callaghan said commentators were overplaying the ability
of the High Court to overturn the laws.
``They (Newman Government) have an extreme majority in our
only house of Parliament - there is no Senate to keep them in
check, no Bill of Rights to which they are accountable.
``And everyone should understand the limits to which the
Constitution can protect us.
``We are not the USA. Our Constitution makes no bold
declarations. It is a very limited document (because) its
principal function was to identify the powers that the states
were willing to give up in 1901.
``Law enforcement was not one of them.
``No one should be thinking `she'll be right' because the
High Court will save us - there are strict limits on what the
High Court can do.
``And even if these laws are successfully challenged in the
High Court, they could occasion major miscarriages of justice
before then. Remember the Government has explicitly stated that
it is not just bikies who might get caught by the VLAD Act.
``The machinery of state is a powerful vehicle, and it is
being driven around a blind corner, at top speed and without any
regard for the caution signs.''
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