Queensland Labor pledges to scrap extended sentences for bikies if elected
- The Courier-Mail
- January 06, 2015
However the Opposition insisted yesterday it was not going soft on outlaw motorcycle gangs and would retain anti-bikie laws in some form.
Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller revealed the party would probably return to the laws Labor first introduced in 2009 in a bid to rid the state of bikies, laws the then-Opposition LNP rejected.
But she said the party did not believe the VLAD laws, which can add up to 25 years to a bikie’s sentence, were working and they would likely be changed.
A criminal conviction is yet to be secured under VLAD, with the cases placed on hold to allow for the unsuccessful High Court challenge to go ahead.
“In 2009 Labor passed very important laws about criminal organised gangs,” Ms Miller said. “It should be pointed out to all Queenslanders that the LNP at that time refused to support those laws because they were more concerned about the civil liberties of bikies than the rest of Queensland.
“What we are thinking of doing is going back to the 2009 legislation and in fact strengthening it because Labor has zero tolerance of criminal organised crime and we have zero tolerance of these criminal gangs.”
The Newman Government yesterday seized on comments by a bikie gang member that he would support Labor over the LNP as a result of the laws and Labor’s pledge to review, repeal and replace them, insisting the Opposition would return the state to the “bad old days” of public brawls and shootings.
Acting Treasurer Scott Emerson, responding to comments in Monday’s Courier-Mail by United Motorcycle Council Queensland spokesman and Rebels leader Mick Kosenko that the bikies would back Labor, called on Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk to commit to retaining the existing regime if the ALP won government.
“These laws have widespread community support because they have played an important part in cleaning up the streets,” he said.
“We are the first state in Australia to effectively deal with the criminal gang problems and that wouldn’t have happened without the current tough legislation.
“This work would be undone if Labor carried through with their threat to replace these laws.”
Mr Kosenko said earlier bikie gangs simply wanted “a government that will sit down with us and talk about the issues they have with motorcycle clubs”.
“We just want to be treated like a sporting club. We are a sporting club. We’ll go along with anyone – Labor, Katter, whoever will listen rather than treat us like criminals.”
Former Rebels sergeant-at-arms Mike Smith, whose two sons were placed in solitary confinement after being among the infamous “Yandina 5” arrested on the Sunshine Coast in 2013, said the bikie laws were a “crime against humanity”.
“Myself and my two sons can’t even have a beer together,” he said. “We can’t even drive in the same car together.”
Police weighed into the debate yesterday, urging both sides to keep the current laws.
They were critical of Labor’s 2009 laws because a court order was needed to declare a gang an outlaw club; under current laws, gangs are deemed to be criminal gangs under legislation which allows police to act almost immediately to close down clubhouses and ban members from wearing their colours or associating with each other.