By Tom Fedorowytsch
Ten bikie clubs operating in South Australia are expected to be declared criminal organisations in a matter of days after controversial legislation passed the state’s Parliament.
The bill passed the Lower House this afternoon.
Members of clubs, including the Hell’s Angels and the Mongols, will be banned from recruiting others and gathering in public under the legislation, as well as entering pubs and bars wearing their gang logos or colours.
SA Attorney-General John Rau said he expected the laws to be in place by early August. “We take the threat [of bikie gangs] very seriously,” he said.
“My expectation is that we would see a very swift change in behaviour of some of these groups. “Where [the gangs] are commonly seen now, they won’t be seen.”
The passage of the laws was only possible after the Labor Government reached a compromise with the Liberal Opposition, scrapping plans to include 17 interstate and overseas gangs in the declarations.
Mr Rau said the Government might never need to extend the powers to cover interstate groups. “They will be done as and when SAPOL advise me that it’s necessary to do so. I guess the short answer is if they all keep clear of South Australia and don’t come here then it may never be done,” he said.
Four Members of the Legislative Council voted against the bill, including two Greens, plus Dignity for Disability’s Kelly Vincent and Liberal MLC Andrew McLachlan.
Mr McLachlan crossed the floor because he was concerned the separation of powers was being breached.
“We must not, in seeking to fight organised crime, undermine our hard-fought freedoms at the same time,” he told Parliament.
“South Australian politics seems incapable of self-restraint and keeping faith with its core values.
“Instead the Parliament creates precedents for even more dangerous and oppressive laws, while being cheered on by a police force that appears to have forgotten its privileged role in the community.
“The passing of this bill shows us that there is a gaping wound in our political culture and leadership.”
The Government turned to Parliament rather than the courts to shut down bikie clubs after parts of its original bikies laws were struck down by the High Court in 2010. South Australia Police welcomed passage of the legislation, saying it would help their efforts to disrupt and dismantle serious and organised crime groups. It said outlaw motorcycle gangs were now on notice and police would ensure the additional powers were used if necessary.