23 July 2020

Probing the polls: readers reject HM's authority and worry about bikie crime

| Genevieve Jacobs
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CCTV footage from Calwell

CCTV footage shows a bikie shooting and arson attack at a Calwell home earlier this year. Photo: File.

If we held the republic referendum again among the RiotACT readers who responded to our weekly poll, it looks like there would be a clear majority for ending the monarchy’s constitutional role in Australian affairs.

Hot on the heels of the release of the Palace Letters (and revelations that Sir John Kerr did not tell the Queen about his decision to remove Prime Minister Gough Whitlam), we asked you: should the Queen have final authority over our national affairs?

A total of 697 readers cast their votes. Your options were to vote Yes, she provides valuable stability and continuity. This received 24 per cent of the total, or 170 votes. Alternatively, you could vote No, we should be responsible for ourselves. This received a whopping 76 per cent of the total, or 527 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about a very serious matter as violence rears its head in the Territory. In the early hours of Sunday morning, the ACT’s Comancheros chief was allegedly stabbed in Kokomo’s restaurant and died on the pavement outside in front of shocked onlookers. His death came with reports of rolling fights in the central city precinct. Restaurant staff and onlookers are being counselled after witnessing the horrific events.

No arrests have yet been made, but ACT Policing has made it clear that outlaw motorcycle gang issues will form a prominent part of their investigations.

For some years there have been calls for anti-consorting laws in the ACT to combat the perceived threat from motorcycle gangs, and the ACT Opposition has been quick to call for renewed action on the issue.

It’s a move the ACT Government has long resisted, arguing that although criminal activity and motorcycle gangs are always a problem in any community, the reality is that the gangs are relatively small in size and responsible for little of the Territory’s crime.

A report released earlier this year by Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay found only 1 per cent of crime in the Territory was committed by gang members.

The independent review of the effectiveness of ACT Policing crime scene powers and powers to target, disrupt, investigate and prosecute criminal gang members in the Legislative Assembly, written by Professor Terry Goldsworthy from Bond University, also found that anti-association and consorting laws were ineffective and could have unintended consequences.

It’s believed that the number of gang members in the ACT has not increased in the last five years, according to the available data, and is believed to total no more than about 30 members in total. The Comancheros, Nomads and Satudarah are represented in the ACT, as are the Rebels.

But the Liberals say that anti-gang laws have been backed by multiple frontline experts on crime prevention and by the High Court.

According to Shadow Attorney-General Jeremy Hanson: “The fact is that since the ACT government failed to introduce anti-consorting laws more than a decade ago, we have seen a four-fold increase in bikie gangs and, as a result, a bikie war has unfolded across Canberra.”

Our question this week is:

Do we need anti-consorting laws to control bikie crime?

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Steven Bailey9:54 pm 25 Jul 20

Cool heads, friends. I’m not sure if everyone understands the implications of such a proposal. Freedom of association is a fundamental tenet of a liberal democracy. Take it away, and you take away part of our democracy. Once you lose it, you won’t get it back. There’s one sure way to stop all crime, and that’s just to live in a police state. I have faith that intelligent police work should prevail over draconian legislation that strips all of us of freedoms that we should protect, not erode. Do you think you should be prosecuted because of the people with whom you associate? If so, perhaps Western civilisation isn’t the place for you.

I consider the Shadow Attorney General to be a good man, and I ask this question with respect: when you served in uniform in the nation’s name, what were you fighting for if not for our democratic values?

You can’t support freedom of speech, but not freedom of association.

This century will be defined by our ability to protect democracy itself, and we all need to choose a side.

Steven Bailey9:51 pm 25 Jul 20

Cool heads, friends. I’m not sure if everyone understands the implications of such a proposal. Freedom of association is a fundament tenet of a liberal democracy. Take it away, and you take away part of our democracy. Once you lose it, you won’t get it back. There’s one sure way to stop all crime, and that’s just to live in a police state. I have faith that intelligent police work should prevail over draconian legislation that strips all of us of freedoms that we should protect, not erode. Do you think you should be prosecuted because of the people with whom you associate? If so, perhaps Western civilisation isn’t the place for you.

I consider the Shadow Attorney General to be a good man, and I ask this question with respect: when you served in uniform in the nation’s name, what were you fighting for if not for our democratic values?

You can’t support freedom of speech, but not freedom of association.

This century will be defined by our ability to protect democracy itself, and we all need to choose a side.

HiddenDragon7:18 pm 24 Jul 20

Interesting that the “precautionary principle” and reliance on expert (people who actually deal with the problem) advice – which we hear so much about in relation to climate science and the management of a pandemic – does not seem to be relevant when it comes to “bikie crime”.

The ACT Government has painted itself into a corner on this subject.

Stephen Saunders7:08 am 24 Jul 20

Read John Menadue (Pearls & Irritations) summary of why the Queen’s fresh denial “beggars belief”. Starting with, why did She herself bury Australian records till 2027-plus, when She had nothing to hide?

Still Morrison lies doggo. Even though Fricker, Twomey, and the Tory press have spun the palace line. Where’s the fourth estate when you really need them? Opposition? Don’t s’pose Our ABC would dare ask?

Clearly the existing motorcycle gang laws are not working in Canberra. Surely there’s a compromise that can tighten the laws but maintain reasonable freedoms.

Well the government could do something radical and legalise drug use, and treat it as a health issue rather than a criminal one.

That would starve these types of organisations of almost all their funds in one fell swoop.

Now that’s an area we could find common ground on.

At the very least there’s certainly policy areas that could help save disenfranchised low socio economic drug users and hurt motorcycle gang business at the same time.

rationalobserver8:49 pm 24 Jul 20

And that would cause them all to take up EL1 positions in the public service and swap their Harley’s for a Prius would it?
Wake up! They will just move onto the next most lucrative criminal endeavor.
Meanwhile, kids will die because drugs are now a little more socially acceptable and easier to obtain.

> that could help save disenfranchised low socio economic drug users
Ummm…what about the educated, engaged, highly functioning, high socio economic drug users? The ones that potentially have degrees or trade qualifications and work good paying jobs to pay for their substance of choice?
Importantly not every drug user has an issue with their drug of choice. Not every beer or wine drinker will be an alcoholic. Not every pack a day smoker will get gangrene but you’re a good bet for a cancer or three.

The market is there, it is never going away. What we don’t have is an industry lobbying for change (unlike the alcohol and tobacco industries!), because the OMCCs don’t want to give up their very lucrative industry, where dollars come before health. The “you don’t know what you’re taking” line is correct BECAUSE of the very reason it isn’t regulated. Cut out the crap/toxic ingredients, regulate/minimise the dosage and tax it as a luxury item. Then put in the health and education programs.

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