A challenge to the Queensland Government’s severe anti-association laws will be lodged in Australia’s High Court within weeks, with the announcement that a high-profile legal team is to fight the legislation.
The legislation, introduced in October, gives unprecedented power to police to take action against individuals, even if they are not current members of motorcycle clubs. The laws even apply to someone who has met a club member socially.
Zeke Bentley and David Stevenson of Brisbane-based Irish Bentley Lawyers will lead the United Motorcycle Council of Queensland’s challenge alongside Wayne Baffsky, the Sydney barrister who successfully defeated similar legislation in New South Wales.
Mr Bentley said he agreed to take on the case because the laws attacked fundamental values like personal freedom, and because he feels that introducing political interference into the administration of criminal justice is an attack on the separation of powers.
Whilst the government’s campaign is currently focused on “bikies”, the laws could be used as broadly as the government chooses.
The right to associate is a fundamental and core freedom of this country.
These laws are not restricted to bike clubs or their members. They apply to any group the government of the day decides to classify as unlawful, and can apply to innocent people who meet a member of an unlawful group socially.
For example, someone who was in a club in 1965, who has not ridden since 1965 is still subject to these laws, and therefore has fewer rights than anyone else.
If you are caught by the laws then you can be jailed indefinitely for refusing to answer police questions, and cannot work in certain industries, such as construction and security. You are also subjected to mandatory sentencing, more severe jail conditions and reduced Bail rights.
The United Motorcycle Council of Queensland has established a fighting fund for the High Court challenge, with donations able to be made at http://www.umcinc.com.au/.