The heart of the problem with the Queensland Government’s VLAD laws is that they make it a criminal offence to be someone or be associated with someone, not to commit an offence.
So the recent “concessions” about segregating jailed offenders and not requiring them to wear pink jail jumpsuits is simply too little, too late and doesn’t go to the heart of the totally unconstitutional laws that were implemented last year in a misguided attempt to look tough on bikies.
The backflip will also do nothing to placate the people who were wrongly and discriminately singled out for police attention because they rode motorcycles. It will also do nothing to appease the thousands of motorcycle businesses and hospitality and tourism operators who have lost money while riders have stayed home in droves for fear of attracting unwarranted police attention under the VLAD crackdown.
The Queensland Government is likely to lose the High Court appeal against the laws and will face millions in compensation. This backflip won’t spare them from that either.
The backflip comes after the recent by-election massacre and is a smug response to voter backlash.
The United Motorcycle Council of Queensland says Premier Campbell Newman’s anti-bikie law concessions are “an insult” and “cosmetic”. Premier Newman has announced that the Queensland Government had listened to public concern and was revoking the requirement for jailed motorcycle club members to be segregated and wear pink jumpsuits.
UMCQ spokesperson Mick Kosenko says the proposed measures are farcical and do not scratch the surface of what is troubling Queenslanders about the state’s VLAD and anti-association laws. “Does the Premier really think that innocent people like librarian Sally Kuether really care what colour they may need to wear in prison?” Mr Kosenko says.
“The primary reason the public is upset about these laws is that innocent people can and are being jailed in Queensland for having a beer with their friends. It is an egregious insult to these people to offer empty concessions and say that the government has listened. It is also an insult to the hard-working Queenslanders who are affected by these laws and are facing the loss of their livelihoods.”
Mr Kosenko says the Premier’s concessions are not even items contained in the “anti-bikie” legislation itself. “The changes are cosmetic at best, because the prison arrangements are not even part of the VLAD laws or the criminal code. They are a separate regulation and require no amendment to the ‘anti-bikie’ laws,” he says. “Furthermore, it was reported earlier this year that the segregated prison was holding one inmate.”