A LIBERAL backbencher has crossed the floor to reject “oppressive” legislation that would make it easier to prosecute members of 10 outlaw bikie gangs. Liberal MLC Andrew McLachlan crossed the floor to vote against his own party, as Attorney-General John Rau’s push to strengthen the Government’s controversial anti-bikie laws passed the Upper House yesterday.
The changes to the criminal organisation laws are intended to close a legal loophole that had led to the collapse of two bikie association cases. Currently, bikies can argue their gang is not a criminal organisation despite them being declared by Parliament as such, requiring prosecutors to prove otherwise.
A former military lawyer, Mr McLachlan was joined by Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent and two Greens MLCs in opposing the Bill. Mr McLachlan told Parliament the amendment “insidiously
seeks to make the law even more oppressive”.
“In a democracy that values the rule of law it is for the courts to decide guilt upon the prosecution proving their case beyond reasonable doubt.
“It is not acceptable for the Government to simply say it is having some difficulties making the case against certain individuals so it will change the law to make it easier to launch prosecutions.”
Mr Rau said the Government believed the prosecution “should not have to prove the criminal purpose of an organisation that has already been declared by the Parliament to be a criminal organisation”. The Advertiser revealed last month that Mr Rau had tangled with the Law Society over the laws, disparagingly comparing the body to tradies.