The Queensland anti-bikie laws are apparently popular with the public.
Some 48% agree with them and about 20% say the Newman Government should go further, according to a Sunday Mail/ReachTEL poll.
But is it right to trample the civil liberties of the minority for the supposed good of the majority?
Well, no. Many wars have been fought to protect the world from just such governments.
But that is exactly what is happening as you can see from the photos.
The Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland has presented several recent examples of “average riders” who are being stopped and harassed by police as part of the new powers these laws provide.
Read their accounts at the end of this article.
Without going into the lack of efficacy of these laws in fighting crime, Tony Fitzgerald (former judge who presided over the Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption in the Joh era) has written a very reasonable assessment, surprisingly published by News Ltd papers which have been staunch supporters of the “brave” legislation.
He writes: “Although Parliament has power to enact almost any law which it chooses, parliamentarians who are elected to do what’s best for the community don’t have a “mandate” to give effect to prejudices and ill-informed opinions, ignore ethics and conventions or attack fundamental values such as personal freedom or essential institutions such as the judiciary. Even Queensland’s rudimentary democracy involves more than base populism.”
He then goes on to cite Wikipedia’s description of a demagogue. No prizes for guessing who he’s talking about – and it’s not Joh.
No matter how many people believe in the government’s new legislation, it is important for those who disagree to stand up and be heard. That takes more bravery than News Ltd ascribes to the Premier and Attorney General. It is a brave person who voices a “minority” opinion and is shouted down by supposedly “populist” politicians.
Tony Fitzgerald writes: “It is extremely arrogant and socially destructive for politicians to slander citizens who disagree with their ‘political solution’ or to denigrate the judicial branch of government and its generally conservative judges who must make sometimes unpopular decisions in accordance with the law and available evidence and their oath of office.”
If you disagree with the laws, sign the petition by clicking here and join the 8238 who have signed so far.
Here are some examples of harassment provided to the MRAQ along with some photographic evidence.
A rider from north Queensland has written:
“On Thursday 24th of October police set up a road block about five doors down from the Harley-Davidson dealership in Townsville. They only pulled over men riding Harley-Davidsons and some Japanese cruisers that looked like Harleys. They were searched, made to turn out their pockets on the road side and their licence details recorded. They hadn’t been riding in groups, only as individuals. None were wearing outlaw club clothing all were just people going about their lawful business. On the 25th of October a friend of mine – not an outlaw club member – was pulled over by Tully police, searched and told “he had better take his Harley home and sell it and buy a car as while he owned it they (the police) would continue to pull him over until he did”. On the 24th of October I was pulled over by police while riding my Harley to Woolworths. The Officer told me he believed I was a member of an outlaw motorcycle club and therefore had the right to detain me without reason and search me. I informed him that I was not an outlaw bikie and had never been one. He said, “I don’t care what you say turn out your pockets or I will arrest you.” He then searched me and eventually let me go. For your Information I am a fire fighter with the Queensland Fire and Rescue service not a member of an outlaw club.”
Additional support for this attitude being displayed from members of the Queensland police force comes from another rider:
“Hi, Ned here, every time I have been out on my bike of late I have been pulled over and harassed. I don’t and never have had anything to do with OMG, yet my right to go and enjoy the very thing that gets me through the week is being taken away from me, and I’m as mad as hell!”
Another from Deception Bay has supplied this information:
“Got pulled over Thurs morn at Deception bay. My ST1300 didn’t interest the two highway patrol cops as much as my mate’s Fat Bob. Licence check, rego, breath test. We gave them our opinions and they declined to converse.”
MRAQ president Chris Mearns says these examples are “the manifestation of laws that are clearly excessive and they will continue to occur with the powers bestowed under them being abused and misused against non-target citizens”.
“There can be no justification for the implementation of laws that the legislators quite clearly know are open to excess and that will and are impacting of those going about their legitimate business,” he says.
“The MRAQ is convinced that these instances are only a very small representation of what is happening and urgently calls upon the Queensland government and police to desist from taking these actions.”
Be brave. Send in your accounts of harassment to email@example.com.