Tasmania is planning to follow other states with consorting laws that specify motorcycle clubs as outlaw organisations and their clothing, badges, patches and jewellery as illegal.
The Liberal Government’s Police Offences Amendment (Prohibited Insignia) Bill being debated in Parliament today (20 September 2018) would ban outlaw motorcycle gang “colours”.
It is a similar ban to the VLAD laws in Queensland where “bikie colours” are banned in public because they create fear.
Tasmanian Shadow Attorney General Ella Haddad says the ban would cover “almost any item of clothing or jewellery that displays any insignia or logo of almost any organisation, with no due process, evidence or court action, and no right of appeal”.
She says the Government’s proposed legislation places “way too much power” in the hands of Police Minister Michael Ferguson.
“There is legitimate concern in the community that law-abiding bike riders might be caught up in the Police Minister’s crack down and with the way the current legislation is drafted, and a right of appeal process must form part of any new laws.
“Labor believes that banning insignia should be part of a comprehensive toolkit available to police – not the be-all-and-end-all – and increased powers should only be activated after evidence is tested in a court.”
Longtime motorcycle advocate Damien Codognotto of Howrah, Tasmania, says his state has had a consorting law since 1935 that has not deterred serious crime and should be repealed.
“A ban on clothing, colours, jewellery and other items is a restriction that should not occur in a free society,” he says.
Damien fears law-abiding bike riders, friends and families will be caught up in police operations interstate using this type of legislation.
This has already happened on several occasions under VLAD laws imposed by the Newman Government in 2013 and only slightly amended by the current Labor Government.