Queensland’s police commissioner has endorsed new anti-gang legislation as “the strongest in Australia” as the Labor government begins to sell a suite of changes to key crossbenchers.
Increased maximum sentences for child exploitation and fraud, a public safety order scheme and post-conviction control powers for courts will complement a total ban on gang colours being worn in public.
“These laws will be tough, they need to be tough,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.
“I am satisfied that they will also stack up constitutionally.”
Commissioner Ian Stewart said the government had come good on a pledge to involve the police service in the entire process of reform.
“Once the public has been able to consider the proposed laws, I think people will see that they are the strongest laws that possibly exist in Australia to tackle organised crime,” he said.
Commissioner Stewart said the changes should be considered as a full suite, with various elements complementing one another.
Police argued strongly for, and have been granted, a transition between the proposed laws and the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) existing legislation.
A NSW-style consorting offence will ban anyone from consorting on two occasions with two others who have convictions for serious indictable offences.
That measure would replace the current anti-association rule, which bans members of proscribed bikie gangs from gathering in a group of three or more, an approach Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath described as “flawed”.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the government was yet to put forward valid reasons as to why his party’s framework needed to be scrapped.
“We know the bikies are waiting to come back … the police know it and their lawyers know it,” he said.
“Our laws were actually stopping crime.
“What we want to make sure is that the criminal gangs do not come back in the first place.”
The full unveiling of Labor’s plan signals the beginning of a two-week consultation process with the crossbenchers, whose votes the government will rely on to pass its bill.
Speaker Peter Wellington and Cairns MP Rob Pyne have already canvassed concerns about civil liberties and the freedom to associate, though they are due to meet with Ms D’Ath this week.
Ms Palaszczuk said she didn’t want to pre-empt whether compromises or concessions would be necessary to get the crossbenchers on board.
“They will need to have a full understanding of the suite of laws that will be presented,” she said.
“We’re happy to sit down and explain our laws to them.”
The Serious and Organised Crime Amendment Bill will be introduced on September 13.