RoLIA Vice President, Malcolm Stewart joined a panel which also included Professor Andreas Schloenhardt (of the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland) and Wayne Baffsky (Barrister) in discussing this important topic.
Mr Stewart identified that the arbitrary powers and lack of Independence of the judiciary within the bikie legislation are the primary reasons why many of the new laws aimed at criminal bikie gangs are against the rule of law. Mr Stewart noted that the failure in the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2009 (NSW) to provide reasons is what caused this legislation to be arbitrary and ultimately invalidated in Wainohu v NSW  HCA 24. In contrast the Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act 2008 (SA) provided for magistrates to rubber stamp previously made decisions thus removing the independence of the judiciary. In South Australia v Totani  HCA 39 this was not a valid approach.
Professor Schloenhardt provided great insight into the history of laws that target organised crime and offered insights into the different approaches across Australia and the world. It was noted that the Australian approach is unique and very stringent.
Mr Baffsky as counsel for the United Motor Cycle Council gave many examples of how these laws provide too much power to various authorities. Mr Baffsky is also counsel for Charlie Foster, the first person convicted under the new NSW consorting laws and identified that while the laws were intended to target bikies the unfair nature is heightened by the conviction of intellectually impaired Charlie Foster who has no connections to a outlaw motor cycle gangs rather he is just a “pain in the neck for Inverall police”. An appeal is currently underway and RoLIA will be closely following the outcome.