Bikers are expected to roll up in their thousands on Saturday, July 4, 2015, for Independence Day rallies against the growing incidence of anti-association laws that threaten discrimination of riders.
Despite the new Queensland Government promising to review the controversial Vicious Lawless Associates Disestablishment (VLAD) laws this year, a protest will still be held in Brisbane at 11am at the Roma Street Forum.
Protest organisers say that rather than backing away from draconian anti-association legislation, governments are still considering them with South Australia set to introduce anti-bikie laws similar to Queensland’s laws.
This is despite the Queensland laws being deemed a failure after only one person has been convicted for smuggling $16m worth of cannabis on planes. It had nothing to do with motorcycles!
Meanwhile, Independence Day rallies and rides will be held at 10am at State Parliament Houses in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
The United Motorcycle Council of NSW will also stage a press conference on Saturday at 1pm at Parliament House to explain why it is opposed to laws that aim to by-pass the rule of law and give politicians and police unnecessary and excessive discretionary power.
UMC Barrister and veteran of several High Court Challenges Barrister Wayne Baffsky will explain the serious implications of ignoring the ‘separation of powers’ doctrine.
Club representatives will also ride around Parliament House to remind the government of motorcycle community concern about these excessive powers and how they are exercised.
New Victorian Attorney General Martin Pakula has stated that the government will not introduce new legislation to criminalise motorcycle gangs.
However, Freedom Riders spokesman Dale Maggs is not taking anything for granted and has drafted a letter to the AG to ensure he does not change his mind.
With Dale’s blessing, we are publishing the following excerpt from the letter which makes interesting reading for all concerned riders:
Law Society of SA president Rocco Perrotta said in March this year that it appeared the Government may be assuming a role normally reserved for a court.
“We would be extremely concerned if the discretion to declare criminal organizations bypassed the court process and rested in the hands of the Government,” he said. “This would undermine the independence of the judicial system.”
“The current laws are tough enough and already risk capturing people who are not gang members and who were not intended by the Government to be captured by the laws.”
Surely a reasonable person would not call a system of law that bypasses the court system a fair, just and equitable system. This system reminds me of the movie “Judge Dredd” (I am the law – judge, jury and executioner).
Likewise, we also like to chose what we wear and in addition under freedom of association we wish to associate with who we want to and when without being thrown in jail!
The Law Institute of Victoria co-chair and specialist criminal lawyer Andrew Halphen said that any move to change Victoria’s laws would be opposed (Herald SunP.10.22/6/15).
We also oppose any changes to Victoria’s laws that have a negative impact on motorcycle riders.
We hold grave concerns as we watch our legal rights and privileges guaranteed as an Australian Citizen eroded away around Australia.
The Australian Government advises that our country and Government is founded on certain democratic beliefs, rights and liberties:
Our democratic beliefs:
The rule of law
Respect for all individuals regardless of background
Compassion for those in need
Freedom of speech and freedom of expression
Freedom of association
Freedom of religion and secular government
Equality in Australia
Equality of men and women
Equality of opportunity
Over the past few years we have witnessed great change in Australia as the States turn on and target certain people and groups based on social profiling.
We are not saying that criminal and anti-social behaviours should not be dealt with to the full extent of the law, they should. No person or group should without fear of prosecution be able to undertake any harm against the community as a whole. However, when specific, targeted laws show clear and direct targeting of a specific person, group or community rather than a behaviour or action, then those laws are not only unjust but discriminatory.
When those laws do not protect the innocent and law abiding citizens that become entangled through poor and overzealous policing and social prejudice, the law is wrong.
We have seen this with the introduction of the VLAD Laws in Queensland. We were told they were introduced to “deal with the Bikie scourge”. However, the laws were written in such a manner that they could not only be applied to any group, community, social or criminal, but they flew in the face of the doctrine of separation of judicial power from executive and legislative power under the Constitution. Further to this, due to the extreme lack of understanding at all levels of what constitutes a ‘Bikie” and a “Biker”, all are thrown into the one pot. Unfortunately the fear mongering perpetrated by the law enforcement agencies and media have the community as a whole wary or scared of anyone that chooses to wear leather and use a motorcycle as their means of transport.
South Australian Laws
We are now seeing laws such as these enacted in South Australia and it appears these will become enacted in all States and Territories..
The South Australian Legislature announced that they have declared 27 clubs or groups to be criminal organisations and further announced that they had declared numerous locations and buildings as declared places of gathering and after making that announcement and having it publicized through the media, they got it wrong. They had to back peddle after being advised that their “intelligence” was wrong and in fact one of those clubs was a “Social Motorcycle club” and two of the locations were in fact not properties associated with these declared groups.
What rights do the Members of this club and owners of these properties have for being publicly denounced and humiliated.
This once again flies in the face of the doctrine of separation of judicial power from executive and legislative power under the Constitution.
The enactment of any law should be even, measured and be able to be applied to anyone within the community that undertakes any mandated action or behaviour that would harm the community as a whole or any person within it. These laws should be tested to ensure they do not socially define, segregate or discriminate against any person based on race, colour, culture, religion etc.
Role of the judiciary
It should not be the position of the legislator to determine who is and isn’t a criminal or what and is not a criminal organisation, this is the realm of the judiciary. The Police must have to present factual evidence before a court to prove the grounds for the declaration to take place and in doing so the defendant given the opportunity to defend such claims. Laws such as these exist within the respective Criminal Organisations Acts.
All Australian Citizens have the right to a Fair Trial and Fair Hearing and in doing so ensures that justice is not only done but is seen to be done.
We are to be held accountable to our actions in society, not to what we wear, our mode of transport or who we may talk to or have a drink with.
We place a great deal of faith in our politicians and legislators to protect these democratic beliefs, rights and liberties. Throughout the history of Australia we have looked at a Bill of Rights to protect these things and we have been constantly told that it is not required. George Williams detailed these concerns in his research paper 20 1998-99 (see below)..
Research Paper 20 1998-99 George Williams, ConsultantLaw & Bills Digest Group11 May 1999
Role of the Federal Parliament
The Federal Parliament has a central role to play in the protection of the basic rights of the Australian people. To date, this role has not been fully realised. While the Parliament has enacted important legislation such as the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cwlth), and its committees, such as the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, determine whether bills trespass unduly on personal rights and liberties, no statute lists the core rights attached to Australian citizenship. Neither does the Australian Constitution protect the basic rights of the Australian people. It does not contain a Bill of Rights, but only a few scattered provisions, such as the right to engage in the free exercise of any religion and freedom of interstate trade.
The lack of an Australian Bill of Rights reflects the views of the framers of the Australian Constitution expressed in the 1890s. The prevailing view was that Australia did not need a Bill of Rights because basic freedoms were adequately protected by the common law and by the good sense of elected representatives, as constrained by the doctrine of responsible government. It is arguable, that nearly one hundred years after the Australian Constitution came into force; a Bill of Rights would make a positive contribution to the modern Australian State. Such an instrument could enhance Australian democracy by expressing the core rights of the Australian people, such as the right to vote and freedom of expression, as well as promoting tolerance and understanding in the community of issues such as cultural and racial diversity. The merit of this argument is reflected in the recent enactment of a Bill of Rights by nations that had previously relied upon the common law tradition, such as Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The 1988 referendum demonstrated that any move to bring about an Australian Bill of Rights should follow a gradual and incremental path. Certain core rights should be protected before others, and then in legislation, subject to a legislative override, before any constitutional entrenchment. This approach is a pragmatic means of protecting a limited range of the fundamental rights of the Australian people. Importantly, this approach would allow the oversight of the Federal Parliament at every step and would maximise the opportunity to create a workable balance between enabling the judiciary to foster the rights of Australians and not vesting misplaced faith in the courts to solve Australia’s pressing social, moral and political concerns.
Maybe it is time for the referendum to enact a Bill of Rights to protect the rights, freedoms and privileges of Australian citizens once and for all.