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VIC Victoria's New tough "Bikie" laws

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by robsalvv, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. These news laws watering down the burden of proof are downright scary shit.

    The following Age article summarises the state of play:


    Napthine plans tougher laws to hit bikies hard
    August 10, 2014
    • 24 reading now
    Chris Vedelago
    Senior reporter for The Age
    View more articles from Chris Vedelago

    Illustration: Matt Golding.

    Police and judges will be handed sweeping powers to crack down on outlaw motorcycle gangs and other organised criminal enterprises under a raft of laws set to be passed by the Napthine government.

    Law enforcement authorities – who have struggled to use existing anti-bikie powers due to the high standard of proof demanded by the courts – are set to find it much easier to obtain orders banning OMG clubs, controlling members and seizing the proceeds of crime.

    But the scale of the changes is alarming civil libertarians who fear the amendments will fundamentally undermine the fairness of the justice system by stripping away long-established rights of suspects and the principle of the presumption of innocence.

    The Napthine government passed hardline organised crime and anti-fortification laws last year, but no bikie gang has yet been banned and police have largely failed to topple clubhouse defences.

    "‘The reforms we have introduced make clear that criminal bikie gangs are not above the law and that Victoria's police have strong powers to act against them,’’ Attorney-General Robert Clark said.

    Under the new laws, police will no longer have to meet the ‘‘beyond reasonable doubt’’ standard in court when seeking to declare an organisation a criminal enterprise, with the burden of proof reduced to a ‘‘balance of probabilities’’.

    Orders to control the activities of individuals and to tear down fortifications would be granted at a sharply reduced threshold, based on members committing a criminal offence punishable by five years’ jail instead of the current threshold of 10 years’ jail.

    This could see gangs and members declared criminal organisations and subjected to control orders for committing a common assault or even potentially for some non-violent offences.

    The laws – if they had been in place in 2010 – could have seen the Bandidos declared a criminal organisation when then serjeant-at-arms Toby Mitchell and two associates started a wild brawl in a King Street strip club.

    The government is also seeking to decimate club recruitment and membership by ensuring that individuals in declared criminal organisations will now be permanently branded as gang members, regardless of whether or not they quit.

    If at least two members from a declared organisation join another gang, that group would be automatically considered to be a criminal enterprise under the new legislation. This provision is an attempt to halt ‘‘patching over’’, which sees one club absorbed by another as occurred with the Mongols and Finks last year.

    The sweeping laws have been branded a political stunt by some critics who claim the government is targeting bikies to boost its law-and-order credentials ahead of the election.

    ‘‘You don’t get a patch on your back just to go out there and commit crimes, which is what all this seems to assume,’’ one senior club member told The Sunday Age. ‘‘We might be the first cab off the rank, but what people don’t realise is these laws could effect everybody.’’

    Concerns that the legislation doesn’t specifically define what type of ‘‘organisation’’ can be declared a criminal enterprise were flagged by Labor MP Martin Pakula in Parliament last week. But the opposition has pledged to support the bill.

    ‘‘The opposition is satisfied by the undertakings provided by the government that organisations not intended to be covered by the supposed outlaw motorcycle gang provision will not become subject to it almost by default,’’ Mr Pakula said.

    But civil libertarians worry that the laws set a dangerous precedent and represent another regressive step towards winding back or suppressing established human rights by the state government.

    ‘‘This is a disturbing trend in Australian law, the idea that police ought to be able to more easily make their cases,’’ said Greg Barns of the Australian Lawyers Alliance. "The police have obviously said ‘This is all too hard’ and the government has rolled over.

    Mr Barns said the "beyond reasonable doubt" test protected innocent people from draconian government actions. "The 'balance of probabilities' is something you’d use in a civil claim in a dispute against a tradie.’’


    = = = = = =

    The way that reads, if a knitting or tennis club was joined by two ex-members of a declared organisation that the club would be declared criminal? This has potential huge problems for any club - how can the club be certain of a new member's past?

    What a farce.

    If the available evidence hasn't been sufficient to prove a declaration, what does that tell you?

    Double farce.
  2. Do you expect any different from a corrupt conservative government dealing its last hands, staring at imminent defeat at the upcoming polls.

    Look at what else they are hurriedly trying to force thru before November....another toll road that only they're mates in the construction industry and toll road operators want....for starters....

    Mind you criminal enterprises/organisations ( not just OMG's ) in Victoria have had it very easy in Victoria for a long time, aided no doubt by the gang in blue not doing their job terribly well..they're too busy filling the states' coffers hounding that benign gang called 'the road users'.
  3. This quote in the Age Article says it all for me:

    I once pointed this out to Ken Lay, many years ago when we were in a meeting together. We both agreed at the time that Victoria possessed enough laws to allow Vic Police to get on and do the job of catching real criminals.

    It appears that my judgement of the forces with Vic Police were misplaced. Someone there appears to be finding their job is too hard and wants something to make their job easier - at the expense of our civil liberties. Wherever you look these days, the cops in Victoria are touting their "Look at Us" propaganda telling us how terrible things are and how much crime is being committed - despite, I believe at a time when overall crime is on a downward trend (someone might be able to verify if I am right).

    The Police are always crying poor, and screaming out for more resources. This sort of legislation gives them the ammunition they need to obtain the funds they so desperately crave. Call me a skeptic, but I smell a rat somewhere here.......
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Only now? You remind me of the frog in the pan.

    OP was forecasted (2) months ago.

    Premier of Victoria press release - Tues, 24 Jun 2014
    Criminal Organisations Control Bill 2014 - Thurs, 26 Jun 2014

    Criminal Organisations Control Bill 2014
    2nd reading (passed Assembly) - Thurs, 7 Aug 2014

    Sentencing Amendment (Baseline Sentences) Bill 2014
    Passed Parliament; will now go to the Governor for royal assent - Thurs, 7 Aug 2014

  5. #5 robsalvv, Aug 10, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
    I thought there was another reading in the upper house???

  6. Some key comments from the guiding notes. (My formatting for emphasis)

    Balance of probabilities rather than "beyond reasonable doubt" for criminal proceedings?!

    Once a declared member always a declared member.

    Any other organisation that two or more current or former members of a declared organisation join, automatically meets the standard for being a declared a criminal organisation - it only takes an application.

    I see what they are trying to do, but that puts anybody and everybody of any organisation in the firing line... How about two former declared members who have straightened up and join a Christian or Charity organisation?
  7. You are correct Rob.

    It's the Sentencing Bill which is ready for royal assent. The second reading was in the lower assembly for the Control Bill. The amendments were passed and it will be going to the upper assembly on 19.08.2014.

    Link: Orders of the day (19.08.2014)

    Hon Robert Clark said that lowering the standard of proof for the making of restrictive declarations does not limit the right to a fair hearing in section 24 of the Charter Act, that applications for declarations are civil in nature, and the amendments merely apply the standard of proof that would ordinarily apply in civil proceedings.

    For any turncoats, it'll be too bad, so sad.

  8. In principal it is mostly okay, but the implementation definitely needs some work, and something like this cannot be rushed out for political reasons and be good legislation. It must be given due consideration and hammered out carefully.

    Though I do have to admit that even as it stands, it would probably be better than VLAD, both in terms of danger to the public (it does, at least, require the judiciary to sign off on things) and potentially efficacy (since it appears to act by breaking up organisations and disrupting their activities, rather than ostracising individuals).
  9. I'm thinking about the possible unintended consequences on the obviously non criminal organisations - e.g. how's the tennis club committee meant to know the history of every person who joins the club? What are committee members and club members exposed to with these laws in play? There doesn't appear to be any wriggle room. A couple of declared blokes who join a union could place the union in jeopardy... and which right wing government wouldn't want to pull that lever?

    I find the other concepts pretty offensive too - criminal declaration based on balance of probabilities, seizure and confiscation based on being charged, reverse onus of proof and once a declared member, always a declared member...

    I'm surprised I haven't bumped into any significant online angst from civil libertarians. LibertyVictoria is conspicuous in its silence.
  10. So, if I understand this correctly, then while all this is fomenting in transitional phases, if OMC's in the firing line were to have a couple of prospects or ex-members join the police force then post declaration the force would also be declared a criminal organisation?
  11. Oh my lawd, that is gold! Can you imagine?!

    I think KOHHOP has identified the political rebuttal to any criticism of this legislation, that at least the judiciary are involved in some way, unlike in QLD.

    I haven't spotted anywhere in the legislation where it mentions bikies or OMC's in any way... it just references organisations, which means that it can apply to anybody. So any organisation set up specifically to protest a cause by civil disobedience , i.e., via illegal means (trespass, violent blockage etc), is potentially right in the cross hairs. If they trip any of the other provisions, that organisation and any declared member is toast.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. Like I said, it certainly needs work, but some of the basic ideas underpinning this stuff have merit.

    The reduced requirements of proof to declare an organisation, for example: I can see some justification for it, as I expect it is not too uncommon to have lots of circumstantial evidence that paints a pretty clear picture, but just isn't solid enough to prosecute anyone, and breaking up the organisation could rock the boat quite hard. As long as it does not affect individual lives beyond their involvement with the organisation (i.e. they just don't have their club/whatever any more), and the organisation can appeal the declaration, it is tolerable. Member could carry on with their lives while the organisation tries to fix things.

    However, the patch-over stuff oversteps a bit; although I think it is reasonable to consider members transferring to be evidence of similar misdeeds, it must be backed up with something more. Attaching a life-long label to individuals without individual proof is also a no-go (and I doubt the cops wouldn't have some kind of record of their involvement anyway).

    I think the key is to keep it preferable to pursue people/organisations through conventional methods/laws, with this sort of thing being a last resort with limited outcomes -- no-one should face jail time or similar consequences. The idea being that it should do no more than break up suspect organisations, and should not be a substitute for proper police work.

    EDIT: Oh, and let's never forget this old gem.
  13. You Victorians need to slip a couple of "declared members" into the state Liberal party. Just shave off their beards and stuff them into suits, they'll fit in just fine.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
  14. From what I've read and heard thus far, my objection to this is purely the change to burden of proof.
  15. Dont need the get patched bikers to join the Libs, just get a couple of rogue Libs to patch to a club, that would fuk them if all the Liberal Party was decleared a OMCG lol
    • Funny Funny x 1
  16. Just in the interests of fairness and non-discrimination, can we get a couple slipped into the Labor party too? They'll blend in just fine there too.
    • Agree Agree x 1