Queenslanders were told evidence led to 26 bikie gangs being declared criminal organisations, but they may never find out what that evidence was.
Queenslanders may never know why 26 bikie gangs have been declared criminal organisations.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says police evidence and detailed criminal histories are behind his declarations.
But the details have been kept secret because making them public could jeopardise police operations or public safety.
Legal experts say they may never be made public or tested in any court, and that because the bikie gangs were never allowed to hear the evidence, they can’t challenge it in court.
Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman says not even a judge can hear the evidence against an accused criminal organisation.
“The attorney-general just listed 26 motorcycle clubs and said ‘I’m now declaring them criminal organisations’,” Mr O’Gorman told AAP.
“There’s nothing stopping him declaring any group as a criminal organisation, and we have no clear reason.”
Under previous laws, police had to provide evidence to a judge to have a particular group declared as a criminal organisation by the court.
In some cases evidence was declared secret and heard in a closed court.
Defendants and their legal representatives were not allowed to hear the evidence, but a criminal organisation public interest monitor could hear it and challenge it on their behalf.
But the University of Sydney’s Dr Greg Martin says the laws override the court process.
“In our adversarial system of law, if someone makes an allegation against you, you can challenge it in court,” Dr Martin told AAP.
“But if you don’t know what the allegation is, how can you defend yourself?
“The fundamental concept of a fair trial has been stripped away.”
Acting Attorney-General David Crisafulli says the gangs declared as criminal organisations were identified by police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
He says the gangs have “long track records of criminality” in Queensland, Australia and, in many cases, overseas.
“No cricket clubs or knitting groups are listed, only criminal gangs that are involved in extortion, violence and drugs,” Mr Crisafulli said.