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Bikie laws a 'blow' to club freedom

Natasha Boddy, The West Australian Updated April 27, 2012, 4:30 am


Bikie laws a blow to club freedom

Bikie laws a 'blow' to club freedom


The Veterans Motorcycle Club WA has joined a campaign against proposed anti-bikie laws, saying they threaten everything they fought for.

Club spokesman Jason Buchanan said the State Government's anti-association laws, which are due to be debated in the Upper House next week, were repressive and threatened the democratic right of freedom of association.

"It's a kick in the teeth to the 110,000 service personnel who have lost their lives defending simple freedoms such as gathering and associating," he said.

"It's very embarrassing to sit there and watch politicians talk about freedom and respect and the memory of our fallen soldiers and for them to be involved in radical legislation like this."

The VMCWA, which has about 25 members, is a social group for former members of the Australian Defence Force.

"We do a lot more than just ride bikes - we're active in the community, do community service work and fundraising events," said Mr Buchanan, who has served in the Royal Australian Navy and as a reservist.

He said the laws would do little to curb the activities of criminal organisations and he feared some groups and organisations could be unfairly hit by the legislation.

"Will it stop organisations such as ourselves from meeting? That's the intention of these laws and that's the end result of what they want to do," he said.

"It's law and order propaganda by the WA Government, it's what it can turn into and evolve into that's the biggest concern.

"These laws are wide sweeping, they're not just for bikies."

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the Criminal Organisation Control Bill aimed to destroy the core operations of outlaw motorcycle gangs and other criminal organisations in WA.

He said there was "no conceivable way" the laws would affect groups which did not engage in criminal activity.

"This legislation provides the right balance in terms of giving our police and justice system the tools they need to fight organised crime, as well as ensuring groups who do not engage in criminal activity are not caught by the anti-association provisions," he said.

Under the legislation, members of a group could be banned from associating once a court had declared the group a criminal organisation.

Lobby group Search for Your Rights spokeswoman Pearl Lim described the laws as draconian and said they did not contain enough checks and balances to prevent an abuse of power.

"These types of laws have not been proven to work in any other jurisdiction, including NSW and Queensland," she said.

"They are overly restrictive and harsh and when association can even include the sending of a Christmas card, it should be a concern."

The legislation passed the Lower House last month and will go before the Upper House, which is expected to debate the Bill when Parliament resumes next week.

'It's a kick in the teeth to the 110,000 service personnel that have lost their lives defending simple freedoms like to gather and associate.'" Veterans Motorcycle Club WA spokesman *Jason Buchanan *




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