‘Law targets bikies ... but hurts us all’

THE Victoria government’s proposed anti-bikie legislation has been described by a Wangaratta solicitor as “unjust, unnecessary and a serious breach of human rights”.

Legislation introduced into the State Parliament yesterday would give police the power to apply to the Supreme Court to order criminal bikie gangs and other gangs to be banned.

Once an organisation was declared illegal, the court could make control orders banning members of that group from associating or participating in gang activities, including riding together and wearing their club colours and emblems.

Individuals who breached a control order would face up to five years’ jail and organisations could be fined up to $400,000 and have assets confiscated.

Wangaratta solicitor John Suta said the proposed laws were insidious because they could be used against any organisation the government or police wanted to target.

But Mr Suta said he was confident the laws would ultimately be declared invalid as happened with similar laws sought to be introduced in NSW and South Australia.

The High Court last year declared invalid the NSW Criminal Organisations Control Act 2009.

The Queensland Criminal Organisation Act 2009 is due to be argued in the High Court on December 4 and 5. It is a possibility the Victorian government may seek leave to appear at that hearing.

Mr Suta has been arguing against such laws since Victoria police confiscated the guns of nine Tramps Motorcycle Club members at Wangaratta on August 23.

The guns were legally stored but the members were declared no longer fit and proper persons to hold firearms’ licences, despite having no criminal convictions.

He said under NSW legislation, a Supreme Court judge had to be satisfied members of a group associated for the purposes of organising, planning, facilitating, supporting or engaging in serious criminal activity represented a risk to public safety.

Mr Suta said the judge had no obligation to provide reasons for making or refusing a declaration.

It was proposed that individual members of organisations could be deemed a “controlled member”.

“It was an offence for the controlled members to associate with one another,” Mr Suta said.

He said if the laws were passed in Victoria, depending on how they were drafted, they could infringe on the Australian Constitution with implied freedom of political communication and association.

“The proposed laws lack judicial independence, are politically motivated and reactionary,” Mr Suta said.

“They will unfairly punish numerous incidental people including friends, family and dependants of so-called ‘controlled’ persons in various ways.”