Anti-association laws brought in to fight motorcycle clubs are working on prophercy and prediction, rather than hard evidence, says Andreas Schloenhardt.
A RESPECTED law academic says Queensland anti-biker laws could drive criminal elements further underground as more secretive groups step up to take control of the state’s drug trade.
Andreas Schloenhardt, Professor of Criminal Law at The University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law, says members of bikie gangs will be ‘taken out’ by the police, but says they will be replaced.
“We will know less than what we used to and it will be more difficult for police to penetrate the groups. The members will be less likely to cooperate with police and testify in court,” he says.
Schloenhardt believes the executive and police are making orders with very little oversight or evidence.
“It seems to be done on intelligence or sentiment, rather than proving a person has committed a crime and contrary to the way the justice system has been set up to operate,” says Schloenhardt.
“The government is trying to move around in grey areas, operating on prophecy or prediction, with the police looking in a crystal ball saying ‘this person may be up to no good’; it is not the way they should be doing business and violates the long standing principles of the law.”
The commodities the biker clubs allegedly trade in are also a concern for Schloenhardt.
“The biker gang industries are quite lucrative, they are involved in hospitality, security and the drug market and there is nothing being done about the commodities they are trading in,” he says.
“The bikers are visible because they are involved in a turf war and innocent bystanders are being affected, but it is because of the drugs.”
Schloenhardt would like to see a more sophisticated approach taken by the government to tackling organised crime, with comprehensive research on their reach and activities available to the public.
“Take an approach of research and analysis of the individual groups involved. There is no information being released to the public about the organised crime scene in Queensland and who they are and I doubt the information exists in policing or in the government.
“I would like to see some kind of annual report, or general statement mapping out the organised crime in Queensland; evidence is needed to justify these cruel measures, but there is none out there.
“The CMC has been shut out, but it is the agency which should be working on these issues.
Rather than pushing criminal organisations underground Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says the laws have taken a weapon out of the hands of bikies.
"Criminal motorcycle gangs’ power over people came from their penchant for overt, public intimidation. We have taken that power away from them and members are now just like any other thug or drug trafficker," says Bleijie.
He has also introduced laws to tackle the drug trade.
"Our unexplained wealth laws also target the lucrative drug trade. If the state can prove on the balance of probabilities that there is reasonable suspicion a person has been involved in a crime, the onus will be on the individual to prove they obtained their property and money legitimately."
The right to represent
Lawyers have been forced to defend their work with members of alleged criminal motorcycle gangs after coming under attack from Premier Campbell Newman.
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.