Queensland Labor has vowed to repeal the Newman government’s anti-bikie laws and draft its own to crack down on criminal gangs.
Queensland’s opposition Labor party says it will repeal the Newman government’s contentious anti-bikie laws if it wins the next election.
That’s despite Labor voting with the Liberal National Party to pass the laws in October last year, albeit while criticising the government’s rushed approach.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has told parliament the laws must change to safeguard the rights and freedoms of innocent Queenslanders.
“They have gone too far, affecting innocent Queenslanders whose only crime is to ride a motorcycle,” she told parliament.
She said the government had publicly acknowledged innocent riders were being affected by the gang crackdown.
“We will repeal and we will replace them,” she said, adding Labor would soon start work on its own suite of anti-crime gang laws.
“We will also establish a public judicial inquiry to assess the state of organised crime in Queensland and the need for any additional legislative measures.”
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said Labor’s stance on gang crime was muddled.
“I am as confused as a scrambled egg as to where the opposition actually sits on this issue. We introduced the laws and it voted for them,” he said.
“The next day the opposition leader gave a press conference and said that she had some concerns about the laws. We then brought a second tranche of reforms in. It then supported the laws.”
Police Minister Jack Dempsey said the laws had resulted in the arrests of more than 650 gang members.
“Not a single one of those arrests has been a recreational rider,” he said.
Detective Superintendent Mick Niland heads Taskforce Maxima, which is tackling criminal bikie gangs.
He says the government’s laws are helping police break up organised crime.
And the three years the government had set before reviewing the laws was enough time for police to make real progress and demonstrate their worth, he said.
“We are gaining traction,” Det Supt Niland said. “I think, in 2014, we’ll use these laws again and again in relation to criminal gangs in Queensland and Australia.”
Det Supt Niland said Queensland was at a crossroads about the time the laws were introduced.
“Since 2007 to today, we’d seen a 50 per cent rise in criminal motorcycle gang activity,” he said.
“These laws have really provided a solid platform for the police service to go forwards and tackle organised crimes, including criminal motorcycle gangs.”
He said police continued to meet recreational motorcycle clubs to reassure them they could continue their rides.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said the last thing business owners and councils wanted was a “wishy-washy” government.
He said the laws were working, and 600 people had been locked up so far.
“Labor has had more positions than a Russian gymnast,” he said.
“We’ve got to see this through. If you start a job, you’ve got to finish it.”