SERIOUS AND ORGANISED CRIME LEGISLATION SPEECH | 10 NOVEMBER 2016

Posted On: 17 Nov 2016

Mrs STUCKEY: I rise to speak on the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill, which was referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee on 13 September 2016 for detailed consideration and reporting back to the parliament by Tuesday, 1 November. That is some 48 days from introduction to the committee tabling a report. If we take off a week or 10 days for final approvals, as a draft report is sent to the committee chair, the actual time for hearings and submissions is less than six weeks. That is a period of only 23 days for people to get their submission in on a bill of 445 pages and explanatory notes of 179 pages. Labor took 18 months to undergo its review, yet the committee only get a few weeks. On top of that, as members have heard, we had other bills to consider.

A public departmental briefing was held on 26 September and the closing date for submissions was 4 pm on Thursday, 6 October, yet the public hearing on the Gold Coast was held on Tuesday, 4 October—two days before submissions closed. A further public hearing was held in Brisbane on Wednesday, 12 October. I found it odd, and so did some of the people intending to provide submissions, that a public hearing was held two days before submissions closed. Government members were asking witnesses at the Gold Coast hearing if they planned to put in a submission even though they had given opening statements and answered questions from the committee. Two hundred and eighty-two submissions were acknowledged as received and some of those were form submissions.

Our committee secretariat were really pushed, with copious amounts of work to prepare in tight time frames—and on numerous occasions this was reiterated to our committee. I wish to thank our secretariat for their long hours and hard work. I also want to thank fellow committee members for their efforts. However, after reading the chair’s foreword when the report was tabled on Tuesday, 1 November, I felt a sense of embarrassment and deep discomfort when I read the personal, nasty and false accusations levelled at Councillor Paul Taylor and Mayor Tom Tate. I had to read the foreword a couple of times because I was so stunned by the fury and rage expressed by the chair towards people who simply held a different view. The Gold Coast Bulletin labelled the public attack as ‘bullyboy’ behaviour, and many would agree.

Further, the LNP committee members were very disappointed in the humiliating belittling of Councillor Taylor dished up by some government members on the committee. The general tone of questions to some witnesses who opposed aspects of Labor’s new legislation was crudely apparent. As I mentioned, the bill is 445 pages long and the explanatory notes are 179 pages.

Mr Power interjected.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, member for Logan!

Mrs STUCKEY: It really is most unfortunate when political superiority is used on witnesses, witnesses invited with only a few days to prepare, I might add, who in good faith came to put forward their concerns with the proposed legislation. That is not what our committee system was designed for. No wonder some of the witnesses that I recommended were fearful of retribution and pulled out of the hearing. They were fearful of criminal elements who may have been present, but they were not expecting retribution to come from the committee. How can we expect people to come forward if they are going to be humiliated in this manner?

Dr LYNHAM: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The speaker is suggesting criminal activity of the committee in some respects in her speech.

Mrs STUCKEY: I am not.

Ms PEASE: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. As a member of the committee, I take personal offence to those personal innuendos.

Mrs STUCKEY: It is not a personal offence.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Were you referring to the member directly?

Mrs STUCKEY: No, I was not referring to any members. I was referring to the tone of questioning.

Ms PEASE: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The member was referring to the government members of the committee and I am one of them. I took personal offence to that statement.

Mr STEVENS: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. For some clarification, if members listened to what the Speaker—the real Speaker, no offence—said in this House the other day in terms of points of order about personal reflection, it has to be a personal reference. The member made no personal reference to any member other than committee members, whether they are government members or non-government members. It has to be a personal reference. Mr Deputy Speaker, there is no point of order.

Dr LYNHAM: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. It is a reflection on the parliament—the criminal activity of the committee.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: You will take your seat. There is no point of order. Unless there is a personal reflection on the member, there is no point of order.

Mrs STUCKEY: I can see that we are rattling a few cages here. It has become starkly clear to me that certain members over there did not want to hear opinions different to their own. However, I did not expect savage attacks on people’s character with untruths and speculation.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate wrote a 2½-page letter which Councillor Taylor politely sought permission to table to the committee. The mayor wrote—On my understanding of the Serious and Organised Crime Legislation Amendment Bill, I am afraid City of Gold Coast will again be plunged into the climate of fear that accompanied the crime wave unleashed by outlaw motorbike gangs over the past decade.

I am the first to say that Mayor Tate and I have locked horns a few times over the years on various issues, but one thing is crystal clear—that is, his 110 per cent passion and advocacy for the Gold Coast and its reputation, and I share that. This letter was in essence a submission and it was delivered to us within the time frame of 6 October. I find it incredulous that the chair suggested it was misleading and chided Gold Coast City Council for not providing a submission. I do note that the chair has voiced his regret at the content of his foreword towards Councillor Taylor, but there is no mention of regret about referring to our mayor or our Gold Coast City Council. I am pleased he has done so, but the damage is done and it is pretty late in the day, on the afternoon of the debate on the bill, to be doing so. The editorial in the Gold Coast Bulletin on 3 November regarding the honourable member for Ferny Grove’s comments summed it up when they said—Labor’s stance on bikies has been exposed for what it is—a political play that has nothing to do with protecting the people of Queensland from criminal gangs.

Labelling the member for Ferny Grove’s personal attack on Councillor Taylor a cheap shot, the editorial acknowledged that Councillor Taylor had ‘spoken out repeatedly about the need to maintain tough laws and keep these thugs in check’. Further, the editorial said—Mr Furner on the other hand has experience with another type of thug. He’s a former union official—and many unions have been consistent in their determination to do away with the current bikie laws. To protect the Gold Coast from the criminal motorcycle gangs we need more politicians like Paul Taylor and fewer like Mark Furner.

Mr Furner interjected.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Miss Barton): Order! If the member for Ferny Grove wishes to interject, he should do so from his own seat. The member for Currumbin has the call.

Mrs STUCKEY: The honourable member for Ferny Grove has discredited the committee process and lowered standards with his comments that dragged his fellow Labor colleagues into the cesspool with him. The Premier was clucking away at the Labor conference on 29 and 30 October that she is gunning for candidates on the Gold Coast. She would have been wise to warn her MPs not to insult the natives, especially when the issue that created the biggest impact on the Gold Coast was the LNP’s tough criminal motorcycle gang laws.

Each term of government I offer local Currumbin residents the opportunity to have their say on various issues through an electorate-wide survey. Last year some 3,000 of them replied that law and order was the top priority for them and 92 per cent of respondents did not want the LNP’s VLAD laws repealed or watered down. Let me say that again: 92 per cent of 3,000 respondents did not want the VLAD laws repealed. I, unlike those opposite, believe strongly in representing the views of the people whom I represent, and the good folk in Currumbin have told me loud and clear they do not want to see tough laws thrown out by a government that is soft on crime.

One glaring flaw about the government Taskforce on Organised Crime Legislation, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Alan Wilson, was the direction given to it before undertaking the report which stated—The Taskforce will note the Queensland Government’s intention to repeal, and replace the 2013 legislation, whether by substantial amendment and/or new legislation.

This is not in any way a criticism of the respected former judge. Rather, it reveals the truth that the Labor Palaszczuk government have nothing but revenge in their policy locker—no practical solutions. Instead, they arrogantly directed a task force towards specific recommendations. However, despite being told what to do, of the 60 recommendations to come from the task force, 23 were not unanimous, 18 of those who did not agree were from the Queensland Police Commissioned Officers’ Union of Employees and 12 who did not agree were from the police union. That is over one-third of the recommendations not being supported by all members of the task force.

Of course these officers have to show support for the government of the day and they have done so, but the fact that 20 per cent of the recommendations were not unanimously supported is very telling. The Queensland Police Commissioned Officers’ Union of Employees noted a number of concerns with section 60A including a greater level of complexity and enforcement. In regard to section 60B they noted concerns about the difficulty in gathering evidence of disorderly activity and concerns about mandatory sentencing guidelines. They closed with ‘hopes you may consider our submission to allow police to do their operational functions without impediment’.

Mr Schmidt, the barrister-at-law representing the Queensland Police Union of Employees at a public hearing on 12 October, was not aware that the union had not fully supported 12 of the recommendations in the Wilson task force report. I asked him—Were there any of the recommendations that the union did not support?

Mr Schmidt replied—To be perfectly honest, I cannot recall. There was obviously some robust discussion during the course of the task force meetings. At the end of the day, my instructions are that the union is supportive of the report.

I followed this up with—So you are actually not aware if you did not support any recommendations?

Mr Schmidt replied—I honestly cannot recall what the recommendations were in their final format, I am sorry.

I note for the Hansard record that the chair and government committee members did not chastise Mr Schmidt like they did Councillor Taylor for not being across the detail. The LNP cannot support the provisions in this bill relating to OMCGs and neither can the majority of communities in South-East Queensland—communities which are most affected by these outlaw clubs with members who believe themselves to be above the law—a bit like some of the people in here. We simply do not believe there is a justifiable case to toss the existing laws out. In fact, non-government LNP committee members felt there were so many shortcomings in this bill that we wrote a 10-page statement of reservation to be found at the end of the report, which is a much longer statement than the norm.

The objectives of the bill, as set out in the explanatory notes, are to implement a new organised crime regime to tackle serious and organised crime in all its forms drawing on the recommendations of the Queensland Organised Crime Commission of Inquiry, the task force—with over 20 recommendations not supported—and the statutory review of the Criminal Organisation Act 2009. A further objective is to improve the clarity, administration and operation of particular occupational and industry licensing acts.

Key matters provided for in the bill include new offences for child exploitation material and maximum penalties for financial crimes. They increase the maximum penalty for trafficking in certain dangerous drugs but remove the minimum 80 per cent non-parole period for trafficking. There are new offences for the wearing or carrying of prohibited items. There is a new offence of consorting. It repeals the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act 2013, the VLAD Act, and the Criminal Organisation Act 2009, and changes licensee requirements under the Liquor Act.

On the issue of clubhouses, there are genuine concerns that they will open up again and that our diligent police will be limited in stopping a proliferation of new locations springing up as bikies re-establish themselves. Only if complaints are made can the police search new premises that spring up. Provisions in the bill place a two-year ban on former clubhouses run by any of the 26 outlaw clubs prescribed in the 2013 legislation. As only one of those 26 is still owned by one of these clubs, it stands to reason that many, if not all, of the others will set up shop in new premises, which is why I asked Acting Inspector Carroll about this scenario. I asked him—Just to get this straight, you are saying that, with clubhouses that were rented and have been shut down, if those premises actually reopened the two-year order would apply. However, if those very same clubs decide to open up in a totally different rented premises then you actually have to apply under this special order?

Inspector Carroll answered, ‘Correct, yes. I understand your question.’ To suggest that the new laws would be better than those under the LNP has been rebutted by many commissioned officers and by members of the police union if we look at the 23 task force recommendations I mentioned earlier. It sounds like back-pedalling to me and makes me very suspicious as to what was going on behind the scenes since the task force reported. Have any deals been struck, we should be asking? The LNP declared 26 clubhouses illegal. If a new one opened up in another location by one of the prescribed groups, the police would go back to government and apply for search orders. Intelligence based information was accepted.

Compare what happens now if you believe on reasonable grounds that premises are being used as an outlaw bikie clubhouse, which is that you can apply to search it directly via government, to police having to go through courts because these Labor laws will toss out intelligence based information in favour of only evidence based. Whilst that might sound like a good idea, in reality it is time consuming and not always practical. Clubhouses can open up right next door to old premises, but they will not be able to be searched without a lengthy brief of evidence required to halt activities. By the time all that occurs, these clubs will already have a foothold.

I want to commend the fantastic work of the Gold Coast RAP team under the skilled guidance of Superintendent Jim Keogh. Their efforts in combatting crime on the Gold Coast were recognised by many residents who were sick of living in fear of disruption and extortion. The deliberate removal of Keogh and then Holmes did not go unnoticed or unreported by media.

OMCG members went to extraordinary lengths patching over to another club—something that would have caused turf wars like Broadbeach prior to 2013 had they dared patch over—but they had to reinvent themselves quickly and adapt to new circumstances or flee over the border into New South Wales, which many did. The comments from the President of the United Motorcycle Council of Queensland, Michael Kosenko, certainly created discussion when he suggested a special precinct for bikie clubhouses. Another negative move is the segregation orders put in place by the LNP that kept bikies separate from other prisoners and quashed recruiting. This will now be overturned. Police tell me that numbers will swell as jails once again become a breeding ground for bikies.

This bill has created a lot of discussion in my electorate. Residents witnessed the rapid disappearance of outlaw motorcycle gangs in 2013. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief, but if you listen to those opposite they do not believe that the people of Currumbin had anything to fear. They do not believe that the bikies were running the Gold Coast. They did not believe that at all. As a Gold Coast MP though, I understand their concerns. The OMCG Lone Wolf have owned their premises for over a decade in Currumbin’s light industrial precinct. Club members were cleared out and the clubhouse closed under the LNP’s tough 2013 VLAD laws. The club is apparently keen to hold onto the site.

Government members interjected.

Mrs STUCKEY: Those opposite should listen because it would be useful if they learnt something about how to stop crime in the future. The club is apparently keen to hold onto the site, which is close to the M1, close to the Gold Coast Highway, and has access to the Tomewin back roads. Bikie insiders said that the Lone Wolf gang were deliberately trying to outlast the Queensland government until the laws were tested in the High Court. Lone Wolf are notorious for recruiting youth into feeder gangs, most notably the Nomads, and they have been responsible for some really gruesome crimes. Labor’s new consorting laws only take action against a piece of clothing. OMCG members will still ride in groups but without colours, and the general public will know no difference. Labor have always been soft on crime, and these amendments will lure citizens into a false sense of safety.

Changes to licensees under the Liquor Act in this bill enable the Commissioner of Police to notify the Commissioner for Liquor and Gaming if a licensee is charged with an offence, and allow approvals to let or sublet licensed premises or enter into franchise or management agreements to be cancelled if a person becomes disqualified or is no longer a fit and proper person. These changes are strongly opposed by industry groups, such as QHA, who fear licensing relaxations could allow criminal outlaw motorcycle gang members access to hotel and gaming licences. When asked about these fears, Mr Steele from QHA replied—It seems contradictory to me, as a layman, that the bill identifies the seriousness of colours and the intimidation, the fear and the criminality that projects so it has seen fit to retain that and seen fit to retain the 26 declared criminal organisations, yet it has opened the door to enable one of those members to now be granted a licence.

He said that these new laws have the ‘potential to open up a pathway for members of declared criminal organisations to own hotels’ and that they ‘do not pass the pub test’ for security and probity. The QHA recommends: the retention of the requirement that all applications must be referred to the police commissioner; that police criminal intelligence is able to be continued to be used in determining applications; and that membership of a criminal organisation precludes an application being approved. Tattoo industry witnesses cited health and safety as being compromised if poorly trained, low-skilled people are allowed to set up as tattooists. Undoubtedly, tattooing has become immensely popular in the past decade. Skilled, experienced artists are keen to defend the reputation of their industry and made some valid points. The submission from the Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce, which is in my area, stated—This Chamber represents businesses and commerce from the Tallebudgera Creek to the NSW border and beyond.

Since the implementation of the so called VLADS laws in 2013 this trouble has diminished greatly and the reputation of the Gold Coast has been restored to a great extent.

The Labor Party stood during the State Election in 2015 on a platform including the repeal of the VLAD Laws and was NOT elected to represent any seat on the Gold Coast. This is a reflection of the views of the people who were most affected by the Bikie troubles, that is;—Gold Coasters.

Highly respected judge, Clive Wall, who retired recently fired off a few parting shots in relation to this government’s ‘weak’ new consorting laws. Describing outlaw motorcycle gangs as ‘ruthless’ people who terrorised residents, Wall said that the Gold Coast had become lawless and these motorcycle gangs were part of organised crime. A newspaper editorial labelled Wall as a ‘justice warrior’. It said—His was a court where justice was meted out swiftly, and delivered with more regard for the court of community expectations than the vagaries of political correctness and progressive sensitivities.

He is not alone, as we heard from many other witnesses. As we have said, the LNP will be opposing this legislation. We do, however, believe that amendments to the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 and the Criminal Code in relation to child exploitation material have merit.

 

 

Welcome from Jann

As the State Member for Currumbin since 2004 we have achieved much together to make the place we call home an even better and safer community.

It truly is an honour to serve the caring and connected residents of Currumbin.

Your thoughts and concerns matter to me and I look forward to continuing to be a strong voice on your behalf.

My electorate office staff and I are here to help you with state government issues.

Kind regards

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