Thursday, October 10, 2013

First they came for the bikies....

Sometimes, when the social urge takes charge, the Professor sallies forth to break bread with like-minded types. Such dinner gatherings often represent a critical mass of antisocial attitudes, as judged by contemporary Victorian standards, there being much levity at the expense of hooked-up, nicely remunerated members of the Mordy-Litijus tribe, social workers, the notion that underpaid teachers spend their four months’ of holiday time preparing lesson plans and, inevitably, the sort of women who represent compelling arguments for male sodomy. Given what happened in Andrew Bolt v Self-Identifiers and the fact that cigarette butts are sometimes carelessly discarded beneath an al fresco table, a case could perhaps be made that a peaceful Bunyip and companions are law-breakers and undesirable elements liable to prosecution under a variety of new measures being introduced in the Garden State and other jurisdictions. In Victoria, the latest novelty is a ban on what are being described as domestic “fortifications”, which police have been given an authority to tear down. They are embracing that option with relish.

The new law is aimed specifically at bikies, as is Victoria Police’s stated intention to give anyone riding in club colours a hard time, even if they are within the speed limit and perhaps on the way to refurbish grandma’s spouting.  In other states similar measures have been introduced, the common thread being that Australia’s various police forces need something more muscular than  existing laws to make outlaw motorcyclists behave themselves. This seems a peculiar view, as dealing drugs, manufacturing them, stockpiling arsenals and shooting fellow citizens are already against the law and have been for some time.

Now it is true that bikies elicit little sympathy and deserve less. Certainly, no decent parent would be pleased to find a child had decorated himself with a “1%” tattoo. Plus, given the way that Harleys handle, there would be reason to doubt the young one’s sanity, as agile Italian and Japanese crotch rockets are cheaper, faster and a lot more fun. But being stupid and illuminating your bicep with a tatt are not illegal activities – not yet, anyway. What should worry the rule of law’s supporters is just where this business of nominating particular groups for selectively harsh treatment might end.

The Billabong just happens to be surrounded by a rather high and private fence, which by the new legislation’s loose definition might be construed as one of those "fortifications".  The possibility that police might come knocking is, while unlikely in the near term, a possibility down the road, for if there is a tendency amongst those who pass and enforce laws it is the lure of “mission creep”.

"Step away from the  Anne Summers jokes, put down the list of Arts Victoria grants recipients and throw yourself face-down in the dirt....." Fanciful, yes, but not unthinkable -- not in a land where a former ABC media critic is consumed with regret that the Finko and Ricketty review was unable to impose the threat of jail time on troublesome newspaper editors.

Today it is bikies on the short end of the battering ram. Tomorrow, who knows which sub-demographic of undesirables might be in for a bit of official attention?


  1. These silly fortification laws remind me of the sporadic attempts for key escrow, whereby one would be required to give a copy of one's private encryption key to the authorities should they ever decide that one's computer might contain something interesting. Maybe they'll propose physical key escrow, next?

    A good test, methinks, of whether a law is dangerous is to ask whether one would be happy for one's worst enemy to be in charge of its enforcement and administration. The 'anti-bikie' laws fails that test.

  2. "But being stupid and illuminating your bicep with a tatt are not illegal activities – not yet, anyway."

    Just as well for a lot of police constables these days... far from being a demarcation point between copper and crim, visible tatts are almost part of the uniform.

  3. Acute attention is needed with the bikie gang, middle eastern drug gang growth problem at hand as proliferation of always illegal hand guns into the community is proceeding along these channels. If we loose the battle on supply and demand for these contraband items more and more of Sydney Melbourne and Gold Coast / Brisbane will become like LA and Detroit. The lucky country can't be allowed to go there.

    As long as whole post-code's suffer from the inconvenience of wide scale gun/drug removal a police blitz crackdown ALL is fair in love and war. South western Sydney is awash with hand guns (even showing up in the local kindy sand-pit - nice find)

    Bring in the sniffer dogs for drugs and guns.
    To save time bring the search into areas with the highest incidence of their illegal use.

  4. Jonathan Holmes is a screaming wank who should "go back to where he came from".
    We have enough loud mouthed know-nothing jounos without importing more.

  5. I agree these "anti association" laws seem to go against some basic and hard-won freedoms. How do you legally define bikies? Probably impossible so it really opens the door to "mission creep" as you suggest. kind of scary.
    as for fortifications, what is local government doing? surely these places don't have development approval?
    I think all layers of government and police are just intimidated by the hard-core cases.

    1. PhillipGeorge(c)2013October 10, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      Eliot Ness where are you?

      Doubts raced through my mind as I considered the feasibility of enforcing a law which the majority of honest citizens didn't seem to want.
      Eliot Ness

      Unquestionably, it was going to be highly dangerous. Yet I felt it was quite natural to jump at the task. After all, if you don't like action and excitement, you don't go into police work. And, what the hell, I figured, nobody lives forever!
      Eliot Ness

      Freedom isn't Free.

  6. The bikie scum are just another group of wankers playing war games with real weapons, but unlike the military they're not approved by the state. We can't have them causing a danger to the police, so what do you expect?

  7. The Old and Unimproved DaveOctober 10, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    Of course, in the Mirror Universe, even now members of the Bunyip Paisley-Shirts are pounding on Nicola Roxon's door...

    "Open up, Roxie! Unless you come out with your hands held high and your Winnie Blues held even higher, you're going into solitary on bread, water, and chaw terbaccy!"

  8. The only thing scarier than Holmes article are some of the comments below it.

  9. Yours Truly, Baffled... But not really- as to why each time the lapdog media whip up outrage "new laws" are needed.

    It's utter bunk to suggest new laws are needed. What's needed is a new judiciary that actually does its part to enforce the multitude of laws we already suffer under to sheet home with some sense of balance, appropriateness and justice, not to mention proportion, when sociopathic recidivists appear before them.

    Not all criminals are misunderstood. Many are just broken people beyond the capacity to ever redeem or repair. In which case, they need years away from their victims.

  10. Yes, imagine Christine Milne, Penny Wong or Conroy in charge with those powers. Andrew Bolt would have more than his tulips ripped out!
    I recommend the cure to a disease is at the site of infection.
    A dysfunctional society where dysfunctional families are rewarded for procreating dysfunctional children and any-one attempting to participate and work is punished by dysfunctional laws, taxes, fees and fines. Any success runs the inverse 'lose everything lotto' of some partner / wife being told by a girlfriend / lesbian / social worker that the absence of flowers each night is sign of a lack of respect. To the rubbish tip is added by another out of work garnisheed, tax fined, can't see his children, potential gang recruit.
    The only solution I can see is to regain control of our legislatures from the party trash and their law school / property developer mates. To do this the hold parties have over your elected member (preselection to a golden egg) has to be stopped. We are being exposed to the contempt (parliamentary allowances) held for public moneys for these public teat for life representatives and the public teat for life voters whose vote they have bought.
    Vote out the largesse and let's go back to the rough and tumble of the local party fundraiser!

  11. Overkill, I think. Some years ago took a bus tour of Tassie. When boarding at Station Pier there was a large group of motorcyclists also boarding. Saw them cycling around the lovely Tassie countryside. Later talked to a pair at Richmond Bridge. Just friendly adventurous Aussies, doing what a lot of us would like to do before the reality of spouse, children, work tie you down. Who knows how many motorcycle riders live in Australia, but likely to be over 100,000, and the police are after how many "outlaw" bikies? 10?, 25?, 50? If police know who they are then despatch your 700 clubhouse wrecking squad, arrest them and take to court. Like to see the same police modus operandi apply to certain ethnic groups, but they would not dare, since this is largely a publicity stunt by the police command to improve their own image.

  12. Thankyou - it's great to hear a voice of sanity from a non-bike rider for a change.

    I don't know why the government (and media) keep focussing on the "bikie" element of these stories. I'm sure there's plenty of organised crime gangs that drive cars, and I read there's a Sydney "bikie" gang who don't even regard bikes as central to their association. There should be plenty of laws already on the books covering their illegal activities without resorting to specific "anti bikie" laws and star chamber interrogations.

    I think the problem (for the government) is that the bikies are highly visible and as a result they are highlighting police incompetence. As an example, after the brouhaha at Broadbeach last week, 100 police (uniformed, detectives and an armoured car) staked out the Bandido clubhouse in Brisbane's West End. Not only were they stopping and searching every vehicle in the area (reported on Nine news), which should have *everybody* arcing up, they only managed to get one Bandido. The others, according to police, were tipped off about their presence. No sh1t - it was on the news.

    This is all security theatre. It makes me wonder why no government seems interested in bringing in RICO-style laws like the US. Perhaps they are concerned that political parties and associated organisations may get caught up in them...

    1. This focus by the QLD Police and politicians has been on my mind particularly since the Broadbeach brawl caught my attention. That and the proposed dismantling of lawful security measures on private property.

      For decades the bikies co-existed readily with Gold Coast Police in Surfers, reputedly managing security of nightclubs and keeping the young toughs under control - work the Police are incapable of managing as well because they have other things to attend to simultaneously in the area.

      The only time I've avoided walking through Surfers with family has been in more recent years when the bikies' presence and control is not evident, after the Government fixed things!

      A decade or so ago the young turks from Sydney, originally from the country of men of no appearance, sought to take over the fringe benefits of the bikies' nightclub control. There was a brief war, negotiation at high level and the young turks were ordered back to Sydney by their elders, to accept the Surfers market was not for sale and to get on with the lucrative Sydney business of pinched car re-birthing, drive by shootings, hold ups, skippy rape and whatever else the Lakemba culture prizes highly. No public servant or copper* was directly involved in those negotiations.

      * except to confirm ownership of control of the Surfers clubs, a user endorsement of their satisfactory business practices and an assurance newcomers were not welcome.

      The Russians made some attempt since to get involved but they too were seen off, partly because they understood the muscular dialect employed by the bikies.

      For twenty odd years living here the bikies have been no problem for the average resident. Extended family, with now teenage girls, living opposite one of their industrial warehouse clubs have never, ever had a problem with them as neighbours. They make a point of not drawing attention to themselves by upsetting people.

      Except for a couple of highly publicised events the inter club blues have been conducted away from the cameras.

      That's my experience.

      Now I see a depleted local Police force, run not by the Commissioner's Brisbane media unit, absent older wiser heads - especially since the past year early retirements - heavily populated with lazy young things in nice yellow hi-vis vests, putting in the minimum effort required in between studying forensics or social work to add to their résumé, so they can jag a higher paid job in the office.

      Thus when a brawl erupts, instead of first keeping the public well clear and securing the area then turning to watch until it fizzles out, they're onto the two way screeching for the "National Guard" to "lock down"a twenty mile radius.

      The Police and the Government is on a hiding to nothing here.

      One common thread running through the charges laid is representation by high quality solicitors and barristers who leave the administration floundering in their wake - from the magistrate all the way to the parliamentary draftsman's first attempt at creating a new statute which can stand on its merits beyond the time of the first decision on the first action brought.

      I know what I'd be instructing my legal advisors to target first. The facts of the case wouldn't get heard.

      The bikie wars are moving way to quickly and too dynamically for the Police to get ahead of the game. The measures announced are primarily for show, the nature of the new laws will have Police resources tied up in the courts for years and we will not hear a word of the dismal result in a year or so - no bills, insufficient evidence, disproportionate response, indiscriminate action, denial of natural justice and so on. Twenty five extra coppers for Surfers? What are they doing now, at this moment, and for the remaining 90% of their time as they twiddle their thumbs while they wait for the head sherang to approve a raid on a bikie club house? Traffic duty? Issuing tickets to Japanese tourists for jay walking?

      Campbell Newman is getting bad advice.

      That'll do for now.

  13. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.October 11, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Ganging up on 'groups' rather than hitting at specific actions by specific individuals is always the road to serfdom in my book, Prof.

    Let the laws that apply to everybody else apply to miscreants who may, or may not, belong to these recreational groups as well.

    Otherwise, it's first they came for the bikies, then they came for the hunters and shooters, next the fishermen, then they came for the School P & C, and now they're at your door for the Chick Lit Book Club, come to Interrogate the Kindle and Farenheit any stray hard copies unless you submit to becoming an Authorised Feminist Reading Group.

  14. The correct Laws for dealing with Criminal Bikie Gangs are “Conspiracy to operate a Criminal Enterprise Laws” which has definitions where “Criminal Enterprise” is Standover Money, Drug dealing, Money Laundering or Hitman Activity , so it can’t be used Politically thus wankers, though they are like Animal Liberation could not be targeted as their law breaking does not fall into this very serious category .

    All persons that could be charged under such a Law must be “Warned Off” that is to say that the “Named Organisation” has been declared a Group under investigation for “Conspiracy to operate a Criminal Enterprise Laws” and you are advised as a named associate.

    Once “Warned Off” any “Criminal Enterprise” proven to be committed by the “Named Organisation” leaves any “Warned Off” person liable to a charge of “Conspiracy to operate a Criminal Enterprise Laws” and investigation specifically allows “entrapment” i.e. the Police might set up covertly a night club and wait till you come round demanding Standover Money well they bang on handcuffs and charge all your mates.

    BTW Professor Harley Davidsons’ are absolutely proof of the Marketing Maxim “People buy the concept not the Hardware” The Japanese can sell you a Cruiser like a Harley that goes better than a Harley, stops better than a Harley, is better built than Harley and costs half the price of Harley but they hardly sell any because the “Concept” is “getting around on a Harley”.

  15. What about the God Squad?
    Big Bad Bill

  16. The "lure" of mission creep.

    "Mission creep" is the INTENDED consequence of this and all similar laws.

    Such laws have, as do most laws these days, deliberately inverted the once-cherished notion of "innocent until proven guilty".

    Whilst this development may cheer the stone hearts of the sociopaths, Napoleonic wannabes and the entire legal profession, it will have interesting consequences.

    Has anyone got engineering drawings for a good tumbrel?

    What is also wryly amusing is that the entire "Bikie / leather and colours" culture is highly derivative of show-business. See: Rebel Without a Cause (Clue?)", "Easy Rider" etc.

    Life imitating art?

  17. It's long been the case in Victoria that bullet proof vests are illegal in the hands of lowly public citizens: you do not have the right to prevent lethal projectiles penetrating your vital organs.

    If there was ever a matter QCs should devote their pro-bono time to...

  18. "The Japanese can sell you a Cruiser like a Harley that goes better than a Harley...."

    Yeah but nothing says tough rebel more than a now-being-made-in-China Harley. Hahaha no need to gate crash, the cops can just follow them for a couple of kays till the bike breaks down.

  19. Forget that fact that they are 'bikie gangs', this is organised crime with its enormous pool of funds.

    Why is that organised crime bosses run amok when everybody knows who they are and what they are up to? Clearly there is a failure within the law to exercise justice over these gangs. And somehow Bunyip, that needs to be addressed, because these are obviously special circumstances that current laws can't handle. A bit like terrorists.

    I've been riding bikes all my life, and never parked the arse on a Harley. What's the point of those things? Other than to make some sort of immature statement about yourself. They are, as you say, junk. The Leyland P76 of the motorbike world. Except less reliable. And slower. And dare I say uglier. And even more pointless.