South Australia

Inked-up protest slams SA anti-bikie laws

Published: 5:51 pm, Friday, 2 October 2015

A vocal, inked-up group of protesters have taken to the steps of parliament house in Adelaide, slamming proposed laws to ban bikies from owning tattoo parlours.

More than 100 protesters, including tattoo artists, held signs reading 'art is not a crime' as they shouted 'wake up Australia' and 'save our tattoos' on Friday.

It comes in response to legislation introduced to parliament in September that seeks to ban members of motorcycle clubs and their close associates from operating tattoo parlours.

'Goodness gracious, this is the worst legislation I've seen,' said Mark Aldridge, a former independent election candidate and speaker at the protest.

'We are not criminals here today. The tattooists of this state have every right to tattoo.'

Mr Aldridge said the laws would cost jobs in the tattooing industry.

'There's not a lot of money in art these days but in this particular art form people can make a living - there's no valid reason to take this away.'

But Attorney-General John Rau said the legislation would only affect people who had a direct link to organised crime, or were closely associated with someone who did.

'Those people in this particular industry who have no connection with organised crime are going to be left completely untouched by it,' he said on Friday.

Mr Rau said the state police commissioner also had the power to lift a ban on gang-associated people owning a tattoo parlour if they could demonstrate good reason.

'It's interesting that all of the people complaining about it so far appear to either be current or past members of these declared criminal groups,' he said.

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Comanchero, Rebels club rooms closed as anti-bikie laws come into effect in SA

Updated 11 Sep 2015

South Australia's new anti-bikie legislation has already forced the closure of two motorcycle gang club rooms, according to Police Commissioner Grant Stevens.

State Parliament passed the legislation last week and it came into effect today.

The laws declared 10 gangs as criminal organisations, meaning it is an offence for members to meet or wear club colours in public.

Mr Stevens said the organised crime gangs task force had been speaking to outlaw groups in the lead-up to enforcement of the new laws.

"Two of the club rooms that were proscribed have already been vacated and the other eight which are subject to the legislation are in varying stages of being vacated or being shut down," he said.

"It's the decision of the clubs themselves to abandon the premises.

The list of declared organisations:

  • Bandidos
  • Comanchero
  • Descendants
  • Finks
  • Gypsy Joker
  • Hells Angles
  • Mongols
  • Nomads
  • Rebels
  • Red Devils

"The two that have shut down are the Comanchero and the Rebels. One's at Salisbury and one's at Edinburgh."

The Commissioner said he expected clubs would set up elsewhere, but if that happened he planned to have those premises added to the legislation.

"We'll continue to do what we normally do in terms of monitoring criminal behaviour and we'll be identifying those premises and then we'll go back with a submission that further premises are subject to the regulation," he said.

The State Government passed similar laws in 2008 but they were struck down in a High Court challenge.

Attorney-General John Rau said he would not be surprised if other challenges were attempted, but added they would be "very unlikely to succeed".

"This legislation does represent a significant threat to the behaviour and lifestyle of these affected people," he said.

"Unlike the previous methods, we have considered and in fact legislated for the declaration of these groups.

"The method we have used here is one that has received acknowledgment from the High Court that it is a legitimate exercise of legislative power."

The crime gangs task force will enforce the laws under the banner of Operation Vanguard.

Lawyer says challenges likely to be mounted

Defence lawyer Craig Caldicott has previously been critical of the laws and said he has "been talking with and taking instruction from various people who may be affected" by them.

"It's likely that there's going to be challenges mounted. Certainly we've been instructed to look at any charges that are laid with a view to taking it to the Supreme Court and the High Court," he said.

"They can't go to a funeral. If a friend of theirs passes away and two or more go to the funeral, they will be charged with an offence."

The commissioner said the laws would also spell the end of bikie runs and rallies.

"That's not to say we won't see large groups of motorcycle riders participating in a combined activity, but the law prevents two or more members of a declared organisation from knowingly associating," he said.

"We are removing from them the ability to coerce and intimidate people to further their criminal activities."

South Australian bikies abandon their clubrooms as tough new anti-association laws take effect

August 6, 2015 4:12pm

Political Reporter Sheradyn Holderhead

Anti-bikie rush "reeks of ineptitude": criminologist

MondayAugust 03, 2015

The Phoenix: one of the interstate bikie gangs removed from the legislation in last week's compromise deal.

The State Government has been slammed for rushing anti-bikie laws through parliament late last week, just months before three parliamentary inquiries into organised crime legislation are due to be completed.

Under the new laws 10 bikie clubs will be prohibited from recruiting new members, meeting together in public, or entering bars wearing club colours or logos.

The list of targeted clubs includes the Comancheros gang allegedly involved in the violent assault of a man in the foyer of Yatala Prison last Monday, as well as the Finks, five members of which were on Friday sentenced for up to 15 years’ jail over charges of aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent to a fellow gang member.

A South Australian parliamentary committee inquiry into organised crime legislation is currently underway, as are two separate inquiries related to the Queensland anti-bikie laws passed in 2013 that inspired the SA legislation.

Gold Coast-based Bond University criminology professor Terry Goldsworthy savaged the South Australian Government for acting before these reviews were complete.

“Why any government wouldn’t wait to see the results of these inquiries is beyond me,” he told InDaily.

“It reeks of ineptitude.”

Goldsworthy said one of the two Queensland inquiries was specifically targeted at the state’s anti-bikie laws while the other is taking a broader look at organised crime legislation.

The Queensland Labor government initiated the review into the anti-bikie legislative regime after winning office earlier in the year promising reform of the controversial laws.

Having previously worked as a detective-inspector for more than two decades, Goldsworthy said he was not naïve to the criminal activity undertaken by bikie gangs, but noted that while the laws restricting the association of such clubs had been in place for over two years in Queensland, no-one had yet been successfully convicted.

“Yes, it’s stopped bikies going around in their colours, but how does it stop organised crime –they don’t have to meet in a café, they can meet in their houses,” he said.

Goldsworthy said if South Australia was to copy Queensland, it should instead look to the Sunshine State’s increased resourcing of police departments, which he claimed had been far more effective.

South Australian Attorney General John Rau told InDaily that the anti-bikie legislation had to be passed last week as another opportunity would not present itself for some time.

“The SA Police made it clear they wanted these laws and I undertook to pass them as quickly as possible, in the interests of community safety,” he said.

“(Thursday last week) was the last sitting day before the winter break and parliament resumes again in September.”

Both houses of the South Australian parliament passed the legislation after the Labor government secured support from the Liberal opposition by removing interstate and overseas gangs from the list of targeted clubs, taking the total number of clubs affected by the laws from 27 to 10.