Friday, June 24, 2011

AUSTRALIA - Bikie laws take a further blow

Bikie laws take a further blow
ATTORNEY-GENERAL John Rau has warned outlaw motorcycle gxxgs the State Government is preparing for a fresh assault after the High Court today delivered another blow to anti-association legislation.
A High Court full bench ruling has declared NSW's Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act invalid and ordered the state to pay the full legal costs of the case.

It follows a successful challenge by prominent Sydney Hells Angels Motorcycle Club member Derek Wainohu, who faced the possibility of being banned from associating with his fellow club members because of the laws.

Mr Rau told State Parliament that bikies celebrating the striking down of the NSW legislation were “living in a fools’ paradise”.

“The Government’s unrelenting fight against organised gangsters, stand-over merchants and thugs is about to step up a notch,” he said.

“We place you all on notice. Life is about to get a lot more difficult.”

He said the NSW decision and legal failure of elements in the SA legislation presented “complex but, I believe, not insoluble constitutional problems”.

“I have asked the Solicitor General to give his urgent attention to closely considering these judgements and recommending to me a course of action,” Mr Rau said.

“The Government has no intention of giving up on providing the police with the appropriate legislation to protect the community from organized crime.

“I will soon be presenting a package of measures to attack organised crime in ways which go beyond the matters considered by the High Court.”

Premier Mike Rann has reiterated his vow to keep up the fight against bikie gxxgs.

"We do not resile from what we're doing, we're going to keep coming at them," Mr Rann told reporters after the High Court delivered a blow to tough anti-bikie laws in NSW.

South Australia has been watching the case, after the High Court last year struck out aspects of SA's own tough anti-gang laws, delivering a significant knock to Mr Rann's vow to rid the state of the outlaw groups.

"The bikies might think that they got a free kick from the High Court but they will not be getting a free kick from us," said Mr Rann.

The court today found a tough NSW law designed to break up outlaw motorcycle clubs was invalid after a Hells Angel's challenge.

The NSW government introduced the law in 2009 following the death of Hells Angel associate, Anthony Zervas, during a violent brawl at Sydney Airport.

It allowed the NSW police commissioner to ask a NSW Supreme Court judge to declare bikie gxxgs criminal organisations and then seek control orders banning individual members associating with one another - virtually identical laws to those introduced by the Rann Government which were also quashed by the High Court.

Derek Wainohu, a prominent member of the Hells Angel Motorcycle Club, launched a bid in 2010 on behalf of Sydney chapters of the club to have the law declared invalid.

It comes after the High Court in November ruled 6-1 against the SA Government's anti-bikie legislation.

The law obliged the state's courts to impose control orders on bikies at the request of the Attorney-General and police, without any evidence being tendered.

The High Court ruled that unconstitutional, finding that it undermined the independence of judges and forced them to find guilt "based on assumptions"'.

Some elements of the SA legislation remained in force - including the Government's right to declare groups criminal.

Opposition justice spokesman Stephen Wade said the NSW ruling threw SA's laws "into disarray".

"The judgment has escalated the courts concerns on the legitimacy of anti-bikie laws," he said.

"Whereas last years Totani case focussed on the institutional integrity of the courts, in this case the High Court has ruled that the anti-bikie law is beyond the legislative power of the Parliament of NSW.

"South Australias anti-bikie law is very similar to NSW. In fact, the Premier reckons that they were modelled on ours."

Mr Wade said it was time for a fundamental reassessment of organised crime laws and policing strategies.

"This is the second embarrassing loss in the High Court for SAs Labor Government," he said.

"Despite all the rhetoric about bikies, Labor has been happy to just sit back and wait over a year for the challenges in the courts wasting time, wasting taxpayer money and risking the safety of South Australians."

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