High Court upholds validity of bikie gang laws
UPDATE: Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon, from State Crime Operations Command, said the application represented one of many strategies to investigate, disrupt and dismantle criminal organisations and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
He said such groups posed a threat to Queensland communities and this High Court decision was the one of many milestones that must be achieved before the application can be finalised.
Mr Condon said the matter was now before the state's supreme court which would make a decision, based on the legislation, about whether the Finks Gold Coast chapter could be declared a criminal organisation.
He said officers were continuing to collect evidence and had "gone to great lengths to corroborate the information provided by us" in the application.
Mr Condon said any suggestions the Finks were just motorcyclist enthusiasts was "absolute rubbish", pointing to convictions for murder, drugs and serious assaults.
"They pose a risk to the community," he said.
"We should not be drawn into a belief that these are good citizens."
Mr Condon said he expected a mention in the supreme court on Friday to set a hearing date to test the strength of the police case.
"It's new ground for us but we believe we have a strong argument," he said.
"If we are successful there will be a declaration made and then we assess whether control orders need to be made," he said.
"Then we assess other legislation such as proceeds (of crime) and seizure of property."
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said decision allowed the police and the state to continue to go after organised crime and bikie gangs in Queensland.
He said the decision meant, together with unexplained wealth laws and mandatory sentencing, Queensland would have the "toughest" anti-bikie laws in Australia.
"We have to stop going after the people on the street with some of these drugs, we have to go after the people that are making the money and chemically engineering these drugs and of course distributing them," he said.
Solicitor Bill Potts, acting for the Finks, said the criminal intelligence provisions were only saved from invalidity by the supreme court's ability to stay an application where the practical unfairness became manifest because the Queensland Solicitor-General's solutions for the flaws in the process were self-defeating.
"The present application against the Finks does not set out the material said by the High Court to be required by the Act," he said.
"Therefore the present application is bound to fail or needs to be redrafted as was implicitly accepted by the Solicitor-General in argument."
EARLIER: Australia's High Court has upheld Queensland's criminal association laws allowing criminal intelligence on outlaw motorcycle gangs to be kept secret.
Queensland Police filed an application in June last year to have the Finks Motorcycle Club's Gold Coast chapter declared a criminal organisation which would make it illegal for members to associate with each other.
The Finks, and its administrative company Pompano, launched a constitutional challenge in the High Court, arguing the laws impaired the supreme court's institutional integrity and therefore infringed on Australia's constitution.
The High Court, in a judgment delivered on Thursday morning, upheld the validity of the provisions.
"The court held that while the provisions may depart from the usual incidents of procedure and judicial process, the supreme court nonetheless retains its capacity to act fairly and impartially," a judgment summary read.
"The court held that the provisions do not impair the essential characteristics of the supreme court, or its continued institutional integrity."
During the police application, the Queensland Supreme Court had declared certain information was "criminal intelligence".
The High Court described criminal intelligence as information relating to actual or suspected criminal activity, the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to "prejudice a criminal investigation", "enable the discovery of the existence or identity of a confidential source of information relevant to law enforcement", or "endanger a person's life or physical safety".
The application to declare that information criminal intelligence was heard in "a special closed hearing" without notice to the Finks.
Because the supreme court granted the application, all matters relating to criminal intelligence must be "kept secret" from the Finks through a closed hearing.
The Finks unsuccessfully argued such a provision was invalid because the organisation was denied procedural fairness.