This was sent to me by a concerned citizen and IRG member who wants to stay anonymous. Take the time to read this entry. It should scare you. Pass it on.
Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders' Group
I am horrified to see what has sneaked into the sunny state of Queensland over the past few weeks.
Injustice has become law. The essential review processes have been bypassed. The judiciary have
had their powers taken away from them by a cabal of politicians.
Innocent people with no criminal connections are now regularly accosted by police and innocent social clubs raided by police task forces. The politicians try to explain this as "a crackdown on bikie crime".
Unfortunately it's a lot worse than that.
Campbell Newman - Premier. Jarrod Bleijie - Attorney General. Tim Carmody - Chief Magistrate.
This group of bureaucrats has twisted and misappropriated the public's desire for law and order,
into a despotic power grab for themselves, under the guise of "it'll stop the criminals" and
"if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear".
I am not in favour of any vicious criminals, whether they are bikie or otherwise. Also, I generally don't have the slightest interest in politics, and usually change the channel when it's on TV.
But this QLD law targets a lot more than just criminals. It's badly written law, and it is rife with potential for abuse. Further, the behaviour of the QLD police (under strict orders from the top, whether they like it or not)
shows that no quarter will be given, whether you are a criminal, or an innocent bystander.
The QLD Police are pulling over and interrogating a huge number of people - ordinary motorcyclists,
drivers with tattoos, scooter riders, and more. (I'm told this happened to a HOG group in Victoria so it's a national problem - Damien.) They have raided many legitimate businesses and law-abiding clubs, without just cause, and without managing to find any significant crimes or make any serious arrests.
Severe criticism of these laws comes from the Federal Government Human Rights Commission, the media, Amnesty International, the QLD Law Society, the QLD Court of Appeal, independent MPs, the Opposition party, and more. Even that vague undefined internet group 'Anonymous' has joined in the protest.
A petition against the laws gathered over 10,000 signatures in just a few days.
We need to convince the QLD government to repeal these laws and make proper ones, that will target criminals instead of everyone, and that stand the test of fairness, judges, and time.
If you are unsure, allow me to explain:
PASSING OF THE LAWS
A set of laws known as "VLAD" was recently passed in QLD (Queensland) Parliament.
QLD Parliament, unlike other states, does not have a "lower house" and "upper house" to
review laws and give a (hopefully) balanced outlook. They only have the one house, and the current
government has a majority, so it can push through whatever it wants. To counter this, there is a
Legal Affairs Committee to review laws before they are passed.
The QLD Government bypassed this committee completely, and didn't give MPs a chance to read the legislation. They were told only twenty minutes before the vote, simply "you MUST vote for this". Seems suspicious already!
THE LAW ITSELF
Amnesty International says:
“One of the major issues we have is the language of the Act is so broad that in Amnesty International’s experience, they are open to abuse,” said Hayworth.
The laws focus on associations of people which include "corporations, unincorporated associations, clubs or leagues or any other group of three or more people whether the group is legal or illegal".
“We share concerns already voiced by the Queensland Law Society, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and Queensland Council for Civil Liberties."
There is no mention of bikes or criminal activity in the definition of association.
“This severely undermines the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
The combination of the broad definitions and the requirement for the accused to prove their innocence
makes any sentence under these new laws fundamentally unfair.
The law breaks the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights on many counts:
Discrimination, arbitrary interference, unfounded attacks upon reputation, freedom of movement,
freedom of residence, arbitrary deprivation of property, peaceful assembly, association,
free choice of employment, and more.
Other laws against bikie crime in QLD are just as poorly-written:
- the list of banned clubs includes clubs that don't exist in Australia, plus clubs with only one member
- no-one knows why or how some clubs got on the banned list
- no-one knows how a club can prove innocence or change its behavior, to get off the banned list
- no-one knows how an 'associate' is defined, or how a person can stop being an 'associate'
- banned "clubhouse" addresses include legitimate businesses where the address has no criminal connections
"After losing the rugby final to the Sherwood Falcons, John and his teammates head to the RE hotel
for their official end-of-season function. A number of the members of the Sherwood Falcons are also
having (celebratory) drinks at the RE. During the course of the evening an argument breaks out
between the two groups about the afternoon’s game. The argument turns physical and John
is arrested for the offence of affray. John is an engineering student, with no criminal history.
He pleads guilty in Brisbane Magistrates Court and receives a $1,500 fine with no conviction recorded.
Unfortunately for John, the VLAD act is enlivened.
His football club is a relevant association and he has committed the declared offence of affray while participating in the teams affairs at their official function. Unless he can prove otherwise, he is a "vicious lawless associate" and will be required to serve 15 years in prison."
If he was an official position holder (e.g. team captain, coach, club secretary) he will be required to serve 25 years."
Surely any judge would not press that sentence upon such a first-offender with a clean record for a minor crime? But the way the law is written, the judge has no say in the matter - it is mandatory sentencing unless John can prove both his own innocence AND that of his club. Guilty until proven innocent.
This is not a new problem - QLD's Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, was warned against this kind of legislation by the Court of Appeal months ago, and chose to proceed.
But even before you get to court, before you've had a chance to even try to prove your innocence, you're locked up.
A GOLD Coast magistrate has criticised police for accusing a prisoner of being a criminal motorcycle gang associate without substantial proof. Magistrate Michael rejected the police affidavit branding it "vague" and unsubstatiated.
Thank goodness for a sensible magistrate. But wait! Not any more...
"QUEENSLAND'S 88 magistrates have been stripped of their ability to hear contested bail applications for alleged members of outlaw bikie gangs in a move which is set to inflame the judiciary."
"Qld Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody's bikie bail directive an 'abuse of power' The Bar Association and other lawyers say the directive flies in the face of the separation of powers and tramples civil rights."
"So the State Government with ... who appears to be their puppet, Mr Tim Carmody, is now going to do the Government's bidding."
Anyone and everyone that Police feel may have a bikie link, is being pulled over without cause, interrogated, photographed, and detained by the roadside for typically half an hour or more before being allowed to proceed. This includes people with tattoos, people with beards, scooter riders and of course regular motorcyclists.
This includes members of Red Knights (Fireman's motorcycle club), charity runs (Ladies of Harley), and car drivers.
They even interrogated one pedestrian for wearing a "Sons of Anarchy" t-shirt.
Yes that's right, "Sons of Anarchy" is the imaginary bike gang, from a TV show with the same name.
Some police love the extra authority. BUT, any of them who had any qualms about the laws, have no choice anyhow:
"Police warned to enforce Campbell Newman's new bikie laws or face being fired"
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers says police have every right to question
the crackdown because many are being forced to carry out search warrants at tattoo parlours and clubhouses without legal grounds.
"Police were told to go and get some search warrants and go and search all the residences we know that are owned by bikies," he said.
"When the question was asked what are the grounds, they said 'just do your job if you want to have a job'."
Law-abiding clubs such as the Vietnam Veterans club have been raided by police teams in riot gear.
To be a member of that club, you have to have earned a medal fighting for our nation in a war overseas.
Unconfirmed rumour says the Naval Motorcycle Club was also raided.
Police have suggested that if riders want to proceed to ride with their friends, they could 'ask permission' from the police by phoning a hotline number. Motorcycle Riders Association says the hotline idea is “insane”.
“In essence, we riders have to take action to protect ourselves from the police,” he says.
Heaven help you if you are trying to make a living in a legitimate business, that the Government thinks is
a type attractive to 'bikie' gangs, whether it's tattooing or something else. Multiple police raids, insurers withdrawing cover to landlords who have these businesses as tenants, and more.
Or if you are a hospitality worker who has been asked to police these laws against bikies:
"The point is not necessarily the identification of these bikies but the removal of people who break the law," Mr Maitland said.
"To expect a young duty manager to remove a 120kg bikie standing at the door is a big ask."
At least there is some humour to come from the situation:
ABC television's "Gruen Planet" even laughed at the whitewash produced by the QLD government to
try to convince their people (skip to 25-minutes in for some cutting humourous entertainment):
A person claiming to be a member of 'Anonymous' published a video decrying the new laws. The QLD Premiers' office chose to send media releases claiming it was a personal threat to he and his family. It wasn't.
THE SPREAD EFFECT
Not just limited to Queensland, this is a dangerous precedent nationwide.
Victoria, for example, has a standard of proof to a judge, before a group can be considered 'criminal'.
But local police reckon they know better than judges and the law...
"One of Victoria's top policemen has described the state's showpiece anti-bikie law as "difficult to enforce"
and revealed police have asked the State Government to change it."
I am a law-abiding citizen. I am a professional, an ex-soldier, ex-federal-officer, and a community volunteer.
I am against crime. BUT - I am also against bad law, discrimination, arbitrary violations of freedom and human rights, and the removal of our hard-won judicial procedures, which are (were?) our best chance at fair justice for all.
If you also are against these things, then write to your local MP.
Share this email.
Spread the word.
This is how we prevent another Eureka moment.
And remember to tell people the key point -
JUST BECAUSE YOU OBEY THE LAW, DOESN'T MAKE YOU SAFE FROM THIS LAW.