Those who would deny freedom to others …

This week the NSW government introduced, passed and gazetted legislation it claims is necessary to control the activities of “outlaw motorcycle gangs”.  It was prompted by the brawl at Sydney airport in which a motorcycle gang member was murdered, and broadly based on similar SA legislation.

The government had claimed the legislation was too complex to introduce before June. Then it introduced it at such short notice that most MPs  had just a few hours to review it before voting. Yet the only ones to vote against it were the socialist Greens.  The Liberals, Nationals, Christian Democrats and both Shooters Party MLCs voted in favour.

The legislation introduces a mechanism for declaring organisations  to be criminal so that restrictions can be placed on the activities of their members.

Organisations are declared by a Supreme Court judge on application from the police. The grounds may be secret “criminal intelligence” and evidence by “victims”, and can occur without notifying the organisation. There is no right of appeal or review.  The police then apply for control orders on designated members of the organisation and the cancellation of their licences (as bookies or bouncers, handling cash at casinos, driving tow trucks, and firearms). Again, this can occur without their knowledge.  The affected individuals are then served with notice of the control orders, advising them they may not associate with each other. There is  an opportunity to appear in court after the orders have been served, with limited grounds for appeal. However, the consequences of the control order have immediate effect.

Those consequences are horrendous. As the Police Minister said: Old friends will no longer be able to meet or even talk on the phone. Some people will have to quit their jobs in a time of increasing economic pressure. There is a presumption against the granting of bail and the penalty for breach of an order is two years jail in the first instance and five years subsequently.  The New South Wales Crime Commission can move to seize their assets.

Speaking in the Legislative Council, the Police Minister said: The legislation avoids “the need to include a list of the types of organisations that cannot be declared, such as political parties. After all, who wants to see a future government trying to declare an opposing party or a troublesome lobby group unlawful?”

He then added: “Members should examine what has happened in South Australia. The bikie gangs have formed a political party, ostensibly to oppose the repressive legislation. However, it is obvious that it is really a device to get around the law by using a political party exemption.”

The New South Wales Law Society said the bill is unnecessary as police already have wide powers to fight organised crime. There is no objective evidence to support the need for the proposed new offences. The proposed legislation will criminalise a person’s associations and interactions rather than their conduct. The Bill constitutes a denial of the fundamental right of freedom of association.

The Bar Association said that police resources would be better used fighting actual crime rather than people’s associations. The legislation will not achieve anything other than to drive these organisations underground and make it more difficult to detect their existence and any associated criminal activitie. It said it was concerning that control orders can be made based on confidential police “intelligence” rather than any publicly proven criminality. How could a person adequately challenge the making of such an order without access to the information on which it is based?

There is a tendency in NSW for a major event to send the superficial media into a frenzy and for the Government to hysterically overreact, beat the law and order drum and rush through a new law that either replicates an old law or has great potential for misuse.

The government regularly says the police need special powers to respond to special circumstances.  Yet bikie violence is not new. The 1984 Milperra bikie massacre occurred in broad daylight at a suburban tavern and led to the deaths of seven people including a 14-year-old bystander.  Despite all of these laws, criminal activities expand—drug importation and manufacture grow and police corruption spreads. These laws do not offer a path to a safer and more law-abiding society; they are a path to an oppressive state and an oppressed society.

Let’s imagine that a future Labor government survives with the Greens holding the balance of power. Let’s also suppose a couple of  vicious criminals join a well known hunting club and engage in some high profile violence involving guns. The media goes into a frenzy about gun nuts sneaking off in to the bush in groups and demands action.  Under pressure from both the media and Greens, the government tells the Police Commissioner to do something.  As a result, based on “criminal intelligence” (in reality simply a disgruntled member)  the club is declared a criminal organisation.  Relying on the same source, control orders are issued against many of the club’s committee plus Robert Brown MLC, who is an honorary member.  Speaking to each other is now a criminal office, their firearms licences have been cancelled and their firearms seized. Coincidentally (or not), all are members of the Shooters Party.

Those who would deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.


6 Responses to Those who would deny freedom to others …

  1. TerjeP (say tay-a) says:

    There really ought to be an administrative rule which requires proposed legislation to be put on public display for 60 days before it can be put to a parliamentary vote. If during that period they decide to tweak the document to deal with any negative public feedback then the clock should start again. If we have been without a law for eternity then a few more weeks should not hurt.

  2. pete2whelan says:

    It was a real surprise to find that our Shooters Party MPs voted for in favour of this bill. It would have been obvious that we shooters see ourselves as a vilified minority group, same as “bikies” and a vote against the bill would have been a real fight for freedom. Maybe the Shooters Party MPs think all the police attention will now be focussed on bikies, not gun owners. Strange that the first couple of arrests under these “new” laws were for firearm offences, so gun owners may feel the noose tighten around their necks once again.

  3. […] For a more complete account of the new laws check out “An Australian Gun Owners blog“. […]

  4. This is insane. Only a breath away in WA. Have a look at what our Minister is proposing:

  5. tra33icp1mp says:

    I am an apologist for crime gangs, there it is, plain and simple. What I do not understand is that week in week out there is some sick pedophile in court. They are either let off with suspended sentences or receive a minor sentence. Some are public servants, some teachers and recently a public systems administrator. Obviously they do not all get a little sentence but why any of them? Reading the comment ‘on the lesser end of the scale’ in reference to a sex crime against children should not happen. Now, compare this to a person dealing in drugs or possessing firearms and ask yourself why there is any reason that ‘high profile’ criminals are what they are. There is a demand for drugs, there always has been. There is clearly a demand for sex and sex clubs, strips clubs, prostitution etc. We have very loose laws around prostitution and the government argues over the sex industry on the point of the criminal element. It is a crime that our judiciary let pedophiles roam free. It would be a crime if government were to legislate and control prostitution. I do not own a gun but with the backwards thinking laws in this country, I am considering it. The real violence is our ignorant leaders. It is a disgrace that victims of crime in the public are offer pitiful payments. A police officer is bashed and wants a million dollars. Asking for that sort of money, I would not be worried if he was flogged again. Ask Mr Butcher if he can go face those who have been beaten, raped and so on, just going about their day and offered a sum of far less than a million dollars. Some people need guns, some need bullets.

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