Bleijie 'cheeky' to assume other states support VLAD laws
THE involvement of other states in the Queensland government's High Court defence of its tough Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws introduced last year did not mean they supported the tough anti-bikie legislation.
That's the view of Queensland Civil Liberties Council spokesman Terry O'Gorman who said the participation of Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, NSW and the Northern Territory was a matter of course to allow them to argue points of law relevant to their jurisdictions.
He said such involvement was common and allowed the states to make constitutional points about decisions that could affect existing and future laws they may wish to make.
"The huge mandatory minimum sentences have to be opposed,'' Mr O'Gorman said.
"If you or I was caught with a joint we would get a $300 fine and a drug diversion order. If you are one of the 26 declared outlaw gangs you would get a $300 fine and a minimum 15 years, or 25 if you were an officer of a club."
He said that while the High Court had recently upheld mandatory minimum sentences of three to five years for people smugglers, those were nowhere near the 15 years minimum that apply to bikies.
Hells Angel member Stefan Kuczborski, backed by the United Motorcycle Council, has mounted the challenge to be heard from September 1 by the full bench of the High Court.
Mr O'Gorman described it as "cheeky" of the Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to suggest that the presence of the other states was a sign of support for the legislation.
However academic Mark Lauchs of QUT's law faculty said there was a strong feeling in sections of the legal community that Queensland's legislation would survive the challenge and then be quickly rolled out in other states.
Dr Lauchs said he expected the legislation to stay "pretty much" intact.
"Legislation is ready to go (in other states),'' he said.
"If you're the state that doesn't ban them that's where they will go."
The state government has announced the backing of all mainland states except the ACT in its defence of the Kuczborski challenge.
Jurists say the previous Labor Government's Criminal Organisations Act 2009 was similar to VLAD laws but required evidence of criminality to be argued through proper process before a judge.
The latest wave of legislation introduced by the LNP meant that whatever the Attorney General declared became fact without proof.
Dr Lauchs said at the very minimum ability should exist for people to go to court to test the minister's decision.
He said the legislation as it stood meant there was no right of appeal and no need for a reason to be argued.
Dr Lauchs said it would be hard to prove that every chapter of every gang was a threat.
"The legislation scares a lot of people. It's not fair or representative of the level of crime being committed.
"If this is upheld it will be a bad day to be a bikie."