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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Queensland's anti-bikie VLAD law to be scrapped, bikies to be given control orders

Queensland's "excessively harsh" VLAD law will be scrapped and bikies given control orders similar to those placed on sex offenders and terrorists as part of a major shake-up of the state's bikie laws.

Key points:

  • Queensland Government to follow recommendation to scrap VLAD law
  • New laws to be introduced will target bikie association with consorting offence
  • Premier says existing laws to remain until new regime in place

The changes will be part of the State Government's response to Justice Alan Wilson's review of the state's anti-bikie legislation, which includes the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Act.
State Cabinet today considered its response to the report, which was handed to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week.
The VLAD law, introduced by the former LNP government, meant members or associates of criminal organisations convicted of a serious crime would have to serve an extra 15 to 25 years on top of any prison sentence.
The only way to avoid the extra jail time was to provide law enforcement with information.
Justice Wilson's review calls the mandatory sentences "excessively harsh", and recommends they be replaced by a new "aggravating circumstance" of serious organised crime, which could add extra years to a jail sentence.
The State Government said anti-association measures that prevented three or more bikie gang members from gathering would be removed.
The Wilson taskforce also recommended that a new consorting offence be introduced, allowing police to warn a person not to meet with two other people with previous convictions. If this warning were to be ignored, the person would be committing a consorting offence.
However, the Government is yet to decide what model of anti-consorting laws to adopt.

New laws must mean more convictions: Palaszczuk

Ms Palaszczuk said new laws as recommended by Justice Wilson would be introduced later this year.
"These new laws will be tough, workable and enforceable. The VLAD laws only got two convictions, I repeat, only two convictions," she said.
"There will be no let-up from police or prosecutors, we will be giving them more resources.
"I want more convictions, not less."
Ms Palaszczuk said outlaw motorcycle gang members represented only a small proportion of the threat posed by criminal gangs in Queensland.
"I reassure Queenslanders the current laws will stay in place until the new regime is being enforced," she said.

Ban on club colours in licensed venues needed: review

The report also recommended introducing mandatory control orders that could prevent criminals from associating, using certain technology and attending prescribed places.
Similar orders are already used for sex offenders and people convicted under terrorism laws.
The report urged that the current ban on bikies wearing their club colours in licensed venues be maintained.
However, the VLAD laws also reversed the onus of proof for bail for bikie gang members, a change the taskforce described as "unnecessary, unreasonable and disproportionate".
It has called for the bail changes to be repealed.

Bikies consider High Court challenge to new laws

United Motorcycle Council (UMC) spokesman Mick Kosenko said the Government should have scrapped the laws altogether.

"I feel we helped Labor get across the line in the election — they know we helped them?" he said.
"People didn't want these laws, the general public didn't want these laws. It got [former LNP premier] Campbell Newman booted out and Labor's just done a big turnaround."
UMC lawyer Zeke Bentley said the group could challenge the laws in the High Court.
"We'll be getting right together looking at all opportunities for a High Court attack because from what I've heard they're going to keep a lot of the bad law in play," he said.
A previous High Court bid to overthrow anti-bikie laws failed as the plaintiff was deemed to be not sufficiently affected by the laws.