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Moves on Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs

By johnboy - 31 March 2009 32

Simon Corbell has announced he’s going to prepare a report on the Outlaw Motor Cycle Gang problem that is about to engulf us unless we move fast.

    Development of the report will also the assist the Government on national discussions on this issue, particularly the next meeting of Commonwealth, State and Territory Attorneys General which will be held in Canberra in April this year.

    The Government proposes to provide the report to the Assembly by the last sitting in June.

For the Liberals Jeremy Hanson has been driving the issue with his latest media release:

    “Meanwhile the weak and indecisive Police Minister continues to dither on this issue and offer a timid ‘wait and see’ approach.

    “It is clear that those tasked with enforcing our existing laws require additional powers to disrupt and dismantle serious and organised crime networks and have made unambiguous representations to that effect.

This has been prompted by a letter from the Australian Federal Police Association to Hanson (text below).

The real issue here is not the current OMCG problem (not to be confused in any way with other people who ride motorcycles) but what would happen if we fell out of step with surrounding NSW. Until NSW acts it’s a non-issue, but if we were to be left behind the risks, as voiced by the AFPA would be huge.

Text of the AFPA letter below:

    31 March 2009

    Dear Mr. Hanson,

    The Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) strongly concurs with a number of points that you made in your press release dated 26 March 2009. The AFPA is seeking a bipartisan approach by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government and Opposition in relation to the enactment of specific organised crime legislation to address the deficiencies within current ACT legislation.

    The ACT is at risk of becoming an oasis for organised crime syndicates including, but not limited to Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs (OMCGs), if we fail to follow NSW’s lead to enact tougher & specific organised crime legislation.

    Organised crime poses significant challenges to the criminal justice system. The criminal law and law enforcement are traditionally designed to prosecute and punish isolated crimes committed by individuals. The structure and modus operandi of criminal associations, however, do not fit well into the usual concept of criminal liability. Moreover, it is difficult to hold directors and financiers of organised crime responsible if they have no physical involvement in the execution of the organisations criminal activities. Equally, those who are only loosely associated with a criminal gang and provide support on an adhoc basis often fall outside existing concepts of accessorial liability.1

    Australia is a signatory to the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. As such, there is an obligation on the ACT Government to have laws that can effectively combat transnational and organized crime. The new laws in South Australia are designed to disrupt and dismantle organized crime groups including OMCGs.

    At the November 2007 Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management-Police (MCPEMP) meeting each jurisdiction agreed to ‘review its legislation pertaining to the disruption and dismantling of serious and organized crime and consider enacting complementary and harmonized legislation to achieve this outcome’.2

    The Australian Crime Commission has stated that OMCGs are one of the most visible groups in the organised crime landscape. Further, that they present a significant threat to law and order at a jurisdictional level and have national and international links that will ensure that they feature in any list of high risk crime groups for the foreseeable future.3

    In Australia OMCGs are involved in numerous and continuous criminal activities including the organized theft and re-identification of motor vehicles; illicit drug manufacture; importation of illicit drugs and importation of precursor drugs; distribution of illicit drugs; murder; fraud; vice; extortion, blackmail; assaults and other forms of violence; public disorder; firearms offences; and money laundering. They continue to intimidate and threaten the public safety and profit from crime.4

    Police have seized from premises connected with OMCGs fully automatic assault rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition, ballistic vests, and a range of prohibited and dangerous weapons (including double edged knives, stun guns disguised as mobile phones and knuckle dusters).5

    The South Australian Government advises that the effect of the South Australian reform program has seen displacement interstate of some members of criminal groups that could be targeted by South Australia’s new laws. Displacement of this kind may continue to occur in order to evade the reach of the legislation.6

    The Australian Crime Commission has also given an opinion that ‘anticipating legislation that will effectively outlaw OMCGs in South Australia, there are indications that some outlaw groups have already relocated to other jurisdictions’.7

    The NSW Government, NSW Police Force and the NSW Crime Commission have stated that a key area for improving the national response to organised crime groups would be closing legislative gaps between jurisdictions which can be exploited by increasingly sophisticated crime syndicates.8

    The AFPA has no doubt that if NSW enacts amendments in line with the South Australian organised crime legislation, that organised crime, including OMCGs, will be further displaced and that the ACT, being located half way between Adelaide and Sydney, will be a safe haven for organized crime without specific organised crime fighting legislation.

    Yours sincerely,

    Jon Hunt-Sharman
    Australian Federal Police Association

    1 Dr Andreas Schloenhardt University of Queensland TC Beirne School of Law 4 April 2008
    2 Letter from the NSW Minister for Police Mr David Campbell MP dated 19 May 2008 pg 1
    3 Australian Crime Commission submission to the Inquiry into the legislative arrangements to outlaw serious and organized crime groups pg 9
    4 Submission of the Government of South Australia to Australian Crime Commission Parliamentary Joint Committee June 2008 pg 16
    5 Ibid pg19
    6 Ibid pg 46
    7 Australian Crime Commission submission to the Inquiry into the legislative arrangements to outlaw serious and organized crime groups pg 10
    8 Letter from the NSW Minister for Police Mr. David Campbell MP dated 19 May 2008 pg 2

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32 Responses to
Moves on Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs
Jim Jones 9:04 am 01 Apr 09

I’m with Felix and Jakez – it’s stupid kneejerk policy stuff that would have little to no impact on the actual problem, while creating a gaping hole in our civil rights that could be all too easily misused.

Thumper 8:26 am 01 Apr 09

I’d be worried that legislation like this could be subject to widespread abuse. By all means charge people with crimes they commit, but don’t charge them with crimes that someone thinks they may commit sometime in the future.

However, if NSW go ahead then we have no choice but to follow.

P Large 1:05 am 01 Apr 09

Seems like turning Canberra into a pirate city could only be good for the Riot and its cadre of law and order nutters. Maybe the Rat Pack could get in on the act as well.

dvaey 12:53 am 01 Apr 09

How about.. we deal with a potential problem of bikie gang wars, IF they happen, rather than jumping in now when theres only really one significant OMCG in Canberra anyway, and other than a one-off shooting involving some people loosely associated by a ‘gang’ connection, but which wasnt gang-related at all (AFAIK). If a problem does occur, our ‘government’ somehow manages to get laws passed through quickly when they desire to, so it shouldnt be a problem for them to do so for something important like this.

I think this issue is good to get discussion happening on future laws, but I dont really see laws like this being of any real use the ACT just at this point in time, other than to give police more powers as said right up in #2.

johnboy 12:37 am 01 Apr 09

The issue is that while I oppose these laws anywhere in Australia sometimes you have to be realistic.

Transforming Canberra into a pirate city astride the Hume Highway is too high a price to pay.

You think when the leading trans-national crime gangs are ensconced here that we’ll have a superior civil liberties regime?

We won’t dare walk down the street let alone consort freely.

ant 12:37 am 01 Apr 09

And I used to enjoy your posts, jakez. I guess we’ll just have to agree to having different views on this topic.

jakez 11:21 pm 31 Mar 09

You know what ant, you have made more offensive noise in my life than any bikie. That’s the true irony of your posts.

ant 9:39 pm 31 Mar 09

OH great, so now all these deafening fart-bike riders are going to come here. We’d all better be very nice and polite to them, or they might be annoyed.

We’ll all be delighted and impressed whenever we encounter them and we don’t get monstered. Phew, we survived THAT encounter.

jakez 9:17 pm 31 Mar 09

You said it Felix. The fundamental legal principles that this whole thing destroys just appalls me.

Felix the Cat 8:47 pm 31 Mar 09

I don’t understand all this OMCG banning stuff. While I don’t condone unlawful activity such as illegal drug manufacturing and marketing and the weapons thing but aren’t there already laws in place already making this kind of thing illegal? So, just go and arrest the people (and then wait for the soft judges to let them all back out again on suspended sentence…). So they have noisy bikes. Book them, defect the bikes. Confiscate the bikes for multiple offences, like they do for street racing hoons.

Wouldn’t it be discrimination to ban these OMCG members of meeting each other in public even though they aren’t doing anything wrong? What about other “groups” (or gangs – whatsinaname) of people that meet up for a drink or a chat or whatever such as sporting or even other motorcyle clubs (Ulysses look like a regular OMCG from a few hundred metres away to the untrained observer). Surely you can’t tell one group of people no you can’t be group and another that they are OK to be?

What happened to presumed innocent before proven guilty? Sounds like the govt can just make up any old law on the spot to suit themselves. Just like the terrorism laws. Just because someone is supected of criminal activity (just being a member of the gang/group is proof enough allegedly) they are presumed to be a criminal, even if there is no actual evidence.

How does this proposed OMCG legislation effect Notorius as a lot of their members don’t even ride bikes?

I can’t see the proposed laws/legislation ever coming to fruition.

Just clarifying, I am not supporting or condoning in any way the illegal activities of these OMCG, just saying I think it is discrimination the way the govt is going about these law changes.

Lenient 7:12 pm 31 Mar 09

Who’s going to enforce these laws? Andrew Barr?

I didn’t think teaching bikies a lesson was part of an education minister’s responsibities.

johnboy 5:46 pm 31 Mar 09

I’d normally agree caf, but I’m hearing the SA laws have already prompted some major relocations, if NSW follows suit and we don’t it seems highly likely we’d look like a very attractive base of operations.

And with four or five major gangs in town the place will end up looking like Dodge City.

creative_canberran 5:39 pm 31 Mar 09

Bikie gangs pride themselves on being outlaw. If you want to get rid of them, make them legal… take the fun out of it!

caf 5:14 pm 31 Mar 09

The AFPA never saw an expansion of police powers they didn’t like, so their support is hardly an indicator of good policy or otherwise.

Equally, those who are only loosely associated with a criminal gang and provide support on an adhoc basis often fall outside existing concepts of accessorial liability.

This seems to translate to me as “guilt by association doesn’t fly right now, but we’d sure like it to.”

Steady Eddie 5:08 pm 31 Mar 09

Who’s going to enforce these laws? Andrew Barr?

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