Upping the debate over innocent crims and governance in Queensland

There’s been a bit of a stoush in Queensland over the LNP government’s new laws targeting criminal organisations.

Apparently, the concern is that these laws mean three old grannies wearing Salvos shirts and selling jams at the local fete could be locked in the slammer. If that is the case, then it’s a bit of legislative overkill. It’s also a concerning attack on rights and freedoms.

As a result, any number of news stories have been published detailing horror scenarios and suggesting that Queensland is now some kind of police state.

However, when going through the legislation, it’s a bit hard to find anything that remotely indicates the possibility that it allows the neighbourhood Lions Club to be raided on a Tuesday night.

Because the actual definition of a criminal organisation in the legislation doesn’t sound too worrying. It’s more common-sense than anything else.

Under the new law, a criminal organisation is defined as any group of three or more people who have a primary or other purpose to organise, plan, facilitate, support, or otherwise conspire to engage in serious criminal activity.

The little group of criminal conspirators must also pose an unacceptable risk to the welfare safety and order of the community.

And for those of an inquisitive mind, serious criminal activity is any offence that is punishable by at least seven years in jail. Or other things, like threatening witnesses, grooming children under the age of 16 years, extortion by threat and sexual assault.

If the local jam-selling grannies are up to that kind of mischief, then I don’t really have a problem with the constabulary paying them a visit. And breaking up their gang.

Let’s face it. Criminal motorcycle gangs are well organised and they are into some pretty serious stuff. You don’t need to be Einstein to work out that there is a battle underway for control of the drug trade in Queensland. And it’s so bad that the reputation of the state’s premier tourist destination is now stained and tarnished. When restaurants become battlegrounds between rival gangs you have a serious problem that needs addressing.

These gangs have links to tattoo parlours. These gangs have links to locksmiths. These gangs have links to prostitution. And these gangs also have links to nightclub security firms.

Of greater concern, these gangs also have a growing membership of young Middle Eastern men. By that, you should read Islamic influence. Not the devout Osama bin Laden type. But still, a dangerous mix of cultural and religious indoctrination that goes hand-in-hand with support for violence and contempt of Australian law and customs.

You don’t need to put doof-doof music, body-ink, pimps and stand-over men together for very long before you see a dodgy cocktail of drug-trading, weapon-dealing and extortion emerge. It’s not the kind of work law-abiding citizens and firms engage in. It should be cleaned up.

Now, I’m the first to admit that I don’t have much love for Campbell Newman and his cohorts. But they are a vast improvement over the previous bunch running the joint up here. And the laws they have passed targeting criminal gangs have copped some unfair criticism.

That’s not to say that these laws are perfect or that they shouldn’t be refined. Nor does it mean that a government with absolute and total control of the numbers in parliament won’t push too far. What these laws highlight, however, more than an unease about civil liberties or the problem with criminal gangs, is that there is no review mechanism in the Sunshine State. Queensland is the only state without an upper house.

This is of more serious concern. And it should be addressed.

If these laws provide a catalyst for a renewed debate about the senate, then they will do much more than just target outlaws. They will also fix a glaring hole in Queensland’s governance mechanisms.

Author: Bernard Gaynor

Bernard Gaynor is a married father of nine children. He has a background in military intelligence, Arabic language and culture and is an outspoken advocate of conservative and family values.

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  1. The only reason that 0.9% of crimes are committed are because bikies silence and intimidate witnesses.

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  2. Define “crime” webboy. Are you counting each conviction as a crime, without weighting them for years served, so that a murder counts for the same as an assault? The problem with bikie gangs is that they are reasonably suspected of a lot more crimes than they are actually convicted of, because witnesses are too scared to testify, even in the absence of direct intimidation. Arson, for example, represents a very low proportion of total crime. On your logic, we shouldn’t do anything about it. Why don’t you engage in some critical thought before you regurgitate whatever facile drivel the left have trotted out to undermine public safety.

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    • Hi Stephen. Thanks for commenting – all I can say is wow! You said it better than I could!

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    • I don’t know how they defined a “crime” in those figures, but those figures come from a government agency, specifically police. Now let’s step back here and use our brains for a moment. What happens when you make association with a criminal organization illegal? The people involved will try much harder to hide to avoid conviction, and if they don’t hide they’ll threaten police. I wonder if you happen to recall what the new piece of hardware police will be getting is? Oh, could it be full body armor? Now, why would they need that if the new laws are so fantastic? Could it be that they’re expecting a higher level of threat as a result of the laws? Nooo, surely not, that would be too logical. It sounds to me like the police were starting to do well before the new laws were brought in. Time will tell if the new laws are effective, but I would be willing to bet that if there is any success at all, with it will come the hassling of innocent citizens going about their own non-criminal business who just happen to fit a biker stereotype.

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  3. I would like to know what these laws will achieve that previous laws dealing with criminal conspiracy didn’t. I am very, very wary about any sort of infringement of freedom of association.

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    • Hi Jeff. Thanks for your comment. I am also concerned about laws dealing with freedom of association. However, from what I have seen in the legislation freedoms are only restricted if there is a history of criminal convictions and evidence of ongoing criminal activity.

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  4. Motorcycle gangs are not the big problem that the media and government make them out to be. The government’s own figures report that only 0.9% of crime in Queensland is committed by motorbike gangs and their associates, and that in fact the big problem is young men getting drunk on the weekend. Drunk men between the ages of 19 and 25 are responsible for about 70% of serious crimes in Queensland, most of which are apparently related to men defending their honor against strangers while tanked up on alcohol. The problem isn’t that the new laws target criminal organizations but that they make unwarranted attention from police more likely. The fact is, while there are good cops on the street, there are also those who are perhaps a bit high on their own power and would be unpleasant to deal with. The other problem is that making associating with a criminal organization illegal makes it harder for police to do their jobs. They’re no longer dealing with easily identifiable members of a motorbike gang but unidentified members of the public who may or may not be gang members. It is really no surprise that Campbell Newman would create such controversial legislation given that there is no one to challenge it in Queensland. I despair of ever having a senate in Queensland again, because self-interested politicians will never go for it.

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    • Hi webboy42. Thanks for your comment. I agree that there are serious problems associated with alcohol consumption. I believe that there is merit in closing licensed premises earlier. No one is really in a fit state at 5am on a Saturday morning in the Valley. And I’m not pretending to be holier than thou here. I was more lucky than sensible when I was younger.

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