'Frustrated' Jarrod Bleijie's open letter on bikie laws
QUEENSLAND Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie has promised to maintain the fight against bikies, even on Anzac Day, in response to an open letter published on APN websites.
In the letter to Mr Bleijie, APN Australian Regional Media online news editor John Parker called for answers to questions that are leaving some Queenlanders afraid they may be targeted under association clauses in the laws.
It has been widely reported that one of the arrested "Yandina 5", three of whom are in prison awaiting trial, was delivering a pizza to the others and had no criminal background and no previous membership of a bikie gang.
The clearly frustrated Attorney General is on leave, but took the time to share his views in an attempt to allay community concerns.
He also promised to keep up the fight against outlaw bikies, even if it means arrests at Anzac Day marches.
Here is Mr Bleijie's full response:
Dear John Parker and readers,
I acknowledge and also feel the frustration in some sectors of the community regarding matters before the court relating to the so-called "Yandina 5".
I am frustrated because there are things that I would like to say, but it would not be appropriate at this time. This is not frustration at the legal system, but at certain claims made that I am prevented, by law, from commenting on. For me to do so now would in fact breach an accused's right to a fair trial.
There have been many claims made in the media by family members and Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington who voted for our laws and who should know better not to pre-judge a case before it's heard in court. I urge everyone to see through the hysteria and stunts and wait for the final court outcome.
We implemented a range of tough and necessary reforms targeting criminal gangs for important reasons.
The Crime and Misconduct Commission, Queensland's top crime fighting body, has described criminal motorcycle gangs (CMGs) as "high-threat criminal networks" who have increased their involvement in organised crime.
It also says "changes in their internal culture have resulted in them exhibiting an increased propensity to engage in, firstly, illegal drug activity in Queensland and interstate and in the use of violence, particularly firearms related violence."
The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) says CMGs are heavily involved in illicit drug markets, vehicle rebirthing, firearms trafficking, serious frauds, money laundering, extortion, prostitution, property crime and bribing and corrupting officials.
The ACC also says "they often form alliances with street gangs-possibly in part as a recruitment tool-to undertake the higher-risk aspects of their criminal activities, while remaining insulated from prosecution."
The Rebels, for example, is one of the nation's biggest criminal motorcycle gangs. It started in Brisbane but its tentacles have spread across Queensland, Australia and even overseas. Hundreds of its members were arrested over the past year as part of a national taskforce and were charged with drug dealing, money laundering, extortion and other violence offences.
Among our reforms was the creation of an offence for three or more members of a criminal gang to gather in a public place. This was to stop them from using their numbers to intimidate others, prevent brawls like what occurred on the Gold Coast last year and also make it harder for them to continue their criminal enterprises.
Sadly, criminal gang members allegedly still think they are above the law and they will be arrested if they continue to break it, on ANZAC Day or any other day.
Misinformation that our legislation will capture innocent people is unfounded. They target only criminal gang members and associates who are also involved in their criminal ways.
The results speak for themselves. Since the Newman Government's crackdown, more than 485 criminal gang members and their associates have been arrested on 1000 charges, including extortion, assault and drug offences.
Just ask the people of the Gold Coast, which was until a few months ago a hotbed of criminal gang activity. They are now saying they finally feel safer. A recent Gold Coast Bulletin editorial said "What the police have done by enforcing the new laws is send a clear message that members and associates of criminal gangs across the country are not welcome here. The laws have already been fantastic for the Gold Coast and, through their continued enforcement by police, that message must be repeated until it gets through."
We will continue to repeat that message. This fight was never going to be easy but we are determined to keep our election promise to make Queensland the safest place to raise a family.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Member for Kawana