Lawyer warns the new
legislation represents a frightening attack on the civil
liberties of Queenslanders.
Bikie nest should
not have been kicked
the bikie gangs' "ant nest" has been kicked over
they are "either going to go underground" or "spread
out all over the place".
Prominent Queensland civil liberties
lawyer Terry O'Gorman and heavily bearded former bikie
Russell ''Camel'' Wattie normally wouldn't be embracing the
same pursuits on their weekend.
O'Gorman is a criminal defence lawyer and
a spokesman for civil liberties in Queensland while Wattie
is a convicted kidnapper, one-time member of the Outcasts
bikies and former spokesman for a motorcycle group
Checks and balances have been
This weekend, however, the pair will be
doing the same thing - furiously poring over Queensland's
radical and highly controversial new laws aimed at crushing
outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Feeling the heat: Members of the bikie
group, the Finks. Photo: Luis
Wattie, now an independent consultant for
motorcycle gangs, warns the laws are going to cost the
Queensland government millions of dollars to enforce after
the bikies launch legal challenges.
O'Gorman says the laws, which include the
threateningly named ''Vicious Lawless Association
Disestablishment Bill'', are ''ludicrous and unjust'' and a
distraction from the Queensland government's failure to
properly resource police.
He has criticised the architect of the
changes, Queensland's 31-year-old Attorney-General Jarrod
Bleijie, as being a conveyancing law specialist who is
inexperienced and out of his depth.
Critical: Terry O'Gorman says the laws
are ludicrous and unjust.
Photo: Craig Sillitoe
And he says they are the most extreme laws
introduced in Queensland's Parliament, eclipsing some of
those passed during the era of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen from
the 1960s to the 1980s.
Both men have been in contact and are
working out strategies of dealing with the laws to protect
what they say are the rights of Queenslanders.
''It will probably be called a bikie
manual as to how to deal with Judge Jarrod,'' O'Gorman says
of his work, which he is doing in his role as president of
the Australian Council for Civil Liberties.
The alliance is just one of many emerging
this week after anti-bikie legislation was passed in
Queensland to crack down on the state's bikie gangs.
Premier Campbell Newman's government
proposed the laws following a large bikie gang brawl at a
Gold Coast restaurant last month that allegedly led to gang
members besieging a local police station and demanding the
release of members.
In a marathon sitting of Parliament one
day this week, the government rushed through numerous
These included a range of heavy penalties
for bikies - jail terms of up to 25 years in some cases and
15 years of mandatory jail if found to be ''vicious lawless
A criminal gangs' disruption amendment was
also passed, which seeks to ban 26 motorcycle clubs where
members will be prevented from attending club houses and
associating in groups of three or more, and also from
promoting or recruiting for the clubs.
Despite widespread condemnation from legal
experts as diverse and experienced as former NSW director of
public prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery and former High Court
judge Murray Gleeson, Bleijie and the Newman government
defiantly state the laws are what Queensland needs.
''The reason we did this is simple,''
Bleijie told Parliament. ''We needed the police to have both
the monetary and legislative resources - the full force of
the law and support behind them.''
In response to calls by the Labor
opposition for Bleijie to be removed, Newman said: ''This
Attorney-General has had the ticker and guts to actually
stand up to the entrenched interests right across the state
without fear or favour.''
The laws sparked a quick reaction from
bikie gangs on Friday. Some were said to have resigned from
their clubs and hired lawyers.
In one case, the lawyer of Brisbane-based
prominent Bandido life member Mario Vosmaer told ABC News
his client had quit the club and was in the process of
closing the chapter.
Some members from the Finks, Rebels and
Nomads were also reported to be quitting.
But O'Gorman warns the complex laws that
are likely to be challenged represent a frightening attack
on the civil liberties of Queenslanders, on par with some of
those from the days of Bjelke-Petersen.
He believes they have bypassed the
parliamentary committee system recommended by the Fitzgerald
inquiry into corruption, a system that was supposed to allow
time for the laws to be examined and all views canvassed.
''There has been no consultation and the
only checks and balances, namely the committee system, have
been bypassed,'' O'Gorman says.
''It was introduced on Tuesday and passed
in one day, a la the Bjelke-Petersen 1977 [anti] street
march law. The law has been proclaimed into effect and so as
of today the coppers can start implementing it.''
O'Gorman says the judges are not being
given any power to vary the sentencing in some cases, and he
questions the way all members of the bikie groups are being
targeted by the laws.
''Leave aside the Mongols, Finks and the
Hells Angels for this argument and consider a significant
number of people in bikie clubs do not commit crime. To
outlaw all bikie clubs because some commit crime is to say
outlaw all lawyers because some steal from clients,'' he
He sees another motivation for the Newman
government's legal crackdown, claiming that before the bikie
brawl last month, the government was facing a backlash from
police about under-resourcing.
The backlash, he says, was ignited after a
police dog handler was shot on the Gold Coast on September
27 - the second police shooting in 18 months highlighting
the lack of police numbers in the region.
''We [at the civil liberties council] had
been in the rare position of being in agreement with the
police union in saying that for a city that has 9 million
visitors per year, the police numbers are inadequate,'' he
O'Gorman says the reaction to the bikie
incidents has allowed Newman to ''skilfully kill the
criticism'' coming his way from the police union over the
second police shooting in 18 months''.
But on Friday, a spokesman for Newman said
O'Gorman needed ''to decide if he is on the side of criminal
motorcycle gangs or on the side of ordinary Queenslanders''.