Lawyers challenging Queensland’s anti-bikie laws in the High Court remain hopeful of success despite the dismissal of a NSW appeal.
A High Court challenge to Queensland’s anti-bikie laws won’t be affected by a decision to uphold related legislation in NSW, says a lawyer involved in both cases.
The High Court on Wednesday rejected a bid by two NSW bikie gang members and disability pensioner Charlie Forster to have laws banning convicted criminals meeting struck out.
Mr Forster’s barrister Wayne Baffsky is also involved in a challenge to Queensland’s anti-bikie legislation, which among other measures bans more than two gang members meeting in public.
Mr Baffsky says Wednesday’s judgment is disappointing but he’s still hopeful Queensland laws will be declared invalid.
“I haven’t seen anything really in here (Wednesday’s judgment) that will affect the Queensland appeal in any detrimental way,” Mr Baffsky told AAP.
“They’re very different arguments and very different pieces of legislation which are being appealed in Queensland.”
In dismissing the NSW case, the High Court found there was no right to freedom of association under the constitution.
The justices also concluded the laws did not breach the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Last month in Brisbane lawyers for Hells Angel member Stefan Kuczborski argued Queensland’s anti-association laws, and harsher prison sentences for bikies, were constitutionally invalid and breached notions of equal justice.
It’s unclear when the court will deliver its judgment.
NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard said his state’s laws gave police needed powers to dismantle criminal organisations.
But Mr Baffsky said Wednesday’s outcome highlighted the need for a bill of rights to protect Australians’ freedoms.
His intellectually disabled NSW client Mr Forster was jailed for consorting with criminals after becoming the first person charged under 2012 laws to curb gun violence and bikie gangs.
“We don’t have any rights, any established rights, in Australia at the moment,” Mr Baffsky said.
“We need a document to set out what rights we have to prevent governments from infringing on those rights.”