The Queensland Opposition is digging in against changes to anti-gang laws that it says will reduce the state’s crime-fighting powers from the nation’s strongest to the weakest.
The Government plans to scrap the former LNP government’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) law, as well as laws preventing bikie gang members meeting in groups of three or more.
Instead, there will be sentencing provisions for “serious organised crime” with a mandatory jail penalty, and consorting laws to prevent people convicted of crimes from meeting.
“There’s certainly lots of strong talk there but anyone reading between the lines knows that these laws are going to be watered down,” shadow attorney-general Ian Walker told.
“We now have the prospect of moving from the strongest anti-gang laws to the weakest.”
The VLAD law had secured only two convictions but Mr Walker said they were a deterrent.
“The fact that the laws have been in effect has pushed the bikies away from creating chaos,” he said.
“These laws have been fair, they’ve been strong and they have had the desired effect of keeping the gangs out of Queensland.
“The Premier keeps saying she wants convictions – you can only get convictions if you have crime. We don’t want convictions, we want no crime.”
The LNP also opposes replacing anti-association provisions with anti-consorting legislation, which would ban gang members gathering if they had a conviction.
“Our anti-association laws are there to make sure that we prevent the association, not deal with it after it happens,” Mr Walker said.
“There has been no proper review of these laws as to whether they’re working or not. There’s simply been a taskforce report on how to get rid of them.”
“The gangs are smarter than the Attorney-General, I’m afraid to say.”
Proposed replacement laws concerning to civil libertarians
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath acknowledged the LNP’s laws deterred gang crime, but said they had to be legally solid and operationally effective.
“The anti-association provision itself has not been tested in the High Court and that is the one that really is the crux of this, the one the Newman government put all the eggs in the basket about,” Ms D’Ath said.
“It is the one area that the taskforce says is most likely to fail in a High Court challenge.
“So it’s constitutionally important that the laws were robust but it’s also important operationally that we can actually get convictions.
“They were a good deterrent and we don’t deny that. But if you’re going to have a big stick, every now and then you have to show that you’re going to use it and it works, and the problem is with these laws we weren’t getting [many] convictions.”
The Government will introduce its laws in August.
The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties welcomed the Government’s decision to repeal VLAD law, but said it had concerns about proposed replacements.
Council vice president Terry O’Gorman said introducing control orders on people convicted of organised crime was the wrong move.
“Control orders in respect of organised crime have no place because what it does is it continues to punish people, once they’ve been punished for the main offence,” he said.
Source : http://www.thestrongestriders.com/queenslands-vlad-law-pushed-bikies-away-creating-chaos-shadow-ag/