‘Poorly drafted, unfair’: Bikie consorting laws slammed
THE controversial bikie-busting consorting laws are not worth the paper they are written on, according to the State Opposition.
The comments follow an appeal by the Attorney-General after alleged Villains gang member Harley Barbaro successfully fought consorting charges in the Southport Magistrates Court in March.
A magistrate found the warning notices invalid. Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath appealed, asking the Court of Appeal for clarification on what makes the warning notices invalid.
The outcome of the appeal will not affect Barbaro's acquittal.
The Magistrate's ruling has thrown into question the 1275 warnings issued since their inception on June 30 last year, including notices issued by Queensland Police since the Barbaro decision.
Barbaro's lawyer Campbell MacCallum, of Moloney MacCallum Abdelshahied Lawyers, said the case would be before the Court of Appeal on September 20.
Mr MacCallum criticised the laws as "poorly drafted, ambiguous, unworkable and grossly unfair".
"The laws have stagnated to the point they are not even being utilised since the Barbaro decision," he said.
Mr MacCallum said none of his clients had been issued with a warning notice since March.
Gatenby Criminal Lawyers director Michael Gatenby said he had a number of clients who had been charged with consorting before the Barbaro decision.
However, they had all been adjourned pending the outcome of the Attorney-General's appeal.
Sources told the Bulletin a single police prosecutor based in Brisbane had been appointed to deal with the consorting laws.
Since Barbaro was acquitted the prosecutor has been adjourning all consorting matters.
LNP Shadow Police Minister Trevor Watts said the consorting warning was a waste of time.
"Annastacia Palaszczuk's bikie laws aren't worth the paper they are written on," he said.
"Labor's bikie laws are in tatters.
"It's no wonder the bikie gangs have ramped up their operations.
"Labor's soft laws rolled out the red carpet and the bikies are well and truly back in business."
Police Minister Mark Ryan said the laws were working.
"The QPS advise that the consorting regime is having a significant effect on disrupting the activities of criminal organisations. I am advised that since March 7 the QPS continues to issue consorting warning notices to disrupt and deter criminal networks," Mr Ryan said.
"The consorting warning notices target criminal networks overtly and pre-emptively, warning people about their associations with recognised offenders and the consequences if they continue to do so.
"I am advised that the official consorting warnings issued to individuals remain valid. The QPS will consider the outcomes of the appeal when it is handed down."
He said the consorting charge was one element of a range of tactics used by police that has seen fully patched bikies drop across the state by 17 per cent.