Queensland Parliament has rejected a call for a public inquiry into the VLAD Act and anti-association or anti-bikie laws.
The Motion this afternoon claimed the Queensland Government’s “anti-crime gang laws are not workable and, in some cases, are impacting on innocent Queenslanders”. It also referred to Premier Campbell Newman’s comments after the Redcliffe by-election that he and his government would listen to Queenslanders more.
It called for the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee to “urgently undertake a public inquiry into anti-crime gang laws to deliver workable laws that Queenslanders can support”, consulting with stakeholders and interested parties including the Queensland Law Society, the Bar Association of Queensland, the judiciary, the police, representatives of recreational motorcyclists and the public. The Motion asked the committee to report back to the House by May 9.
Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie rejected the Motion and insisted the anti-bikie laws are helping combat crime. Ipswich Member Ian Berry used mainstream media editorials to support his claim that the anti-bikie laws are working, but did not refer to any crime statistics to prove his point. The Government used its overwhelming majority to defeat the Motion.
Despite Labor voting in favour of the rushed anti-bikie legislation, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk now says a “future Labor Government will repeal them and we will replace them” with effective criminal gang laws that ensure innocents are not affected. She said the “unworkable laws” lack the “true support of the community”, they are unjust, not working and should be referred to a public inquiry by the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee. She said that if the Government refused they were arrogant and not listening. She also claimed Ian Walker would be a better Attorney General than Bleijie who has “lost the confidence” of the electorate.
Opposition Police Minister Bill Byrne said the anti-bikie laws had angered “every recreational motorcycle rider in the state” and had caused a loss of public confidence in the police. “We do not support rules that disrupt the lives of normal everyday people,” he said.
There could be no expectation that the Motion would ever succeed, but it did give the Opposition the opportunity to declare its intentions. However, pointedly the ALP did not supply any details of the laws it would replace them with. Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said Labor wanted laws that “target illegal activity, not brand you a criminal because you ride a Harley or wear a leather jacket”. It is now up to the ALP to outline what those laws are, or at least the process of consultation it would employ to draft suitable laws.