The ominous Criminal Organisations Control Bill(2011) could well have been penned by George Orwell as a bad joke on all those people who haven't read his books. The Bill is evidence the far, right-wing conservative state government are so far removed from normal working-class Australian society, that they cannot be bothered considering the risks that the impending radical law poses to battlers and the middle classes.
With their net thrown wide, the 160-page bill completely fails to mention the purported target recipients for the "Bikie Bill" at all - yes, that's right, the Government has drawn up a "Bikie Bill" with no bikies in it - incompetence, or smoke 'n' mirrors? Surprisingly Hylton Quail who does not support such laws, told The West Australian's readers that bikies aren't his favourite mob. Considered cloistered and secretive, bikies opt for a somewhat gruff, male-dominated, fundamentalist culture that is, at its most essential, inaccessible to the mainstream majority. Along with their guarded aloofness and their private cultural practices, comes the usual misunderstanding and intolerance from society. In practice, and before the law, they should be viewed as any other marginalized minority, albeit with practices and customs not easily understood by broader society, but still, nonetheless, entitled to the same rights and presumption of innocence. One could easily speculate that the "bikies" in the "Bikie Bill" spin are interchangeable with any racial or religious minority, and there is nothing in the Bill that offers any comfort that it will not be applied in an arbitrary manner to all other similarly unspecified groups who have a dissenting opinion or who are unpopular with the government of the day.
In justification of the Bill on Wednesday May 2, the Parliamentary Secretary Michael Mischin, drew a parallel to the laws implemented to rid the world of Nazis after they had murdered 6 million people in the Holocaust. He also suggested the United Nations makes provisions for anti-association type laws in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, though the UN has already suggested that the anti-association laws in Australia, rejected by the High Court twice, were extreme and naive.
"In terms of civil liberties and reference to, for example, the United Nations Convention ... after the Second World War the United Nations declared the Nazi Party a criminal organisation, and members of every organ in it-the Schutzstaffel, or SS; the Gestapo; and even those who worked as functionaries in the Nazi Party, whether or not they happened to have killed anyone or committed any violence-as nevertheless being members of criminal organisation.
The United Nations, even in its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, makes it quite plain that although there is a freedom of association, it is subject to certain limitations, and one of those limitations is that it not be for causes that are fundamentally inconsistent with a free and democratic society, or damaging to public order, morality and the like.
.... I think the Soviet Union had a terrific bill of rights in its constitution. I am sure a number of other countries do also. I suppose North Korea also has one."
So, to be clear, the legislative response to the Holocaust installed and ensured democracy and human rights, where there had been none amid the tyranny of a brutal dictatorship, whereas the insignificant and poorly drafted Criminal Organisations Control Bill(2011) is, at best, an undemocratic, unsound philosophy that hinges on the presumption by one of two parties (that are less than independent), that a group of 3 people could criminally offend at any given point in the future, because two of them have had convictions for something.
The High Court of Australia ruled against similar anti-association legislation which previously passed through NSW and SA state Parliaments. The two parties who can apply to have an organisation declared are the Police Commissioner and the Corruption and Crime Commissioner. At present the Police Commissioner is the subject of two investigations by the CCC and his son, a convicted drug cook, has just been released from protective prison custody. A report from the Parliamentary Inspector of the CCC informed the very same Parliament which is set to pass this bill, that the so called, "independent watchdog," had investigated only 1 in 278 complaints against police in the last year.
There is no absence of criminal legislation with which to deal with offenders in Western Australia, and the parallel, apart from being completely unrelated to the bill, seems puzzlingly, racially insensitive for a Parliamentarian in a democratic society. The Bill is not purported to, and does not, target perpetrators of race crimes, or white supremacist groups in the state - they are still covered by the criminal law that apparently is not effective enough for "bikies." In the words of another infamous Australian Parliamentarian, "please explain..."
Even more concerning is that the bill has met with bipartisan support.
To date, anti-association restrictions enacted via other legal avenues, such as bail conditions, CHOGM laws and cashed-up multinational mining company and industry threat lists, have almost exclusively been served on people exercising an Australian constitutional right to protest(not on-site). Banned, beleaguered human rights/tree hugger/native title protesters outweigh the Government's alleged Public Enemy No.1 "bikies," at ratio of about 36:1. So, it is not difficult to see the writing on the wall about why "bikies" don't actually happen to be mentioned in the government's upcoming "Bikie Bill."
Criminal organisations don't rate a mention in the Criminal Organisation Control Bill. Neither do the definitions of what police might consider a serious criminal offence, on any given day. What comprises an organisation is similarly slippery, so you might want to think twice about your next family barbeque, bowling club meeting, prayer meetings or hanging out with your mates outside Maccas, especially if you are representative of an ethnic minority that is already disproportionately targeted and vilified by post-White-Australia-Policy oriented police and government departments.
The draft legislation has not explained how children can be considered gangsters or organized crime figures worthy of an anti-association control order. Following the Police Commissioner's repeated spin editorials in the state's only daily newspaper about what he considers to be the criminal disposition of Aboriginal boys - who he mistakenly claims undertake 61% of the state's burglaries - it is not a far reach to envision that the juvenile provisions in the Bill may not be applied to juvenile "bikies," (which don't exist, because children can't be motorcycle club members) although, strangely, that is how the Bill is being marketed to the public and to the Opposition. Experts in juvenile criminal law state that the juvenile crime rate has remained static for the last decade, and is not worsening, contrary to Government spin.
After the terrible and tragic attacks in the US in 2001, reactionary government policies ensued, swelling defence and law enforcement budgets, and sadly, the hype that followed could only be described as racist and exploitative. Respected intelligence whistleblowers such as Andrew Wilkie were burnt at the inquiry stake for daring to state known facts instead of towing the line on Government spin, when the Federal government was in the midst of a feverish rush to instil yet more fear into the electorate.
As most government department budgets face cuts, the government has spun another makeshift, bogeyman to frighten the voting public into submission and compliance - no independent thought required. The Bill and a raft of international agreements just signed, ease safeguards and obstructions to domestic and international enforcement intelligence sharing, and facilitate a multi-agency approach to controlling and surveilling declared groups(including outsourcing domestic intelligence gathering to largely unscrutinized, international private security corporations), all at a time when Australia's current Federal government is failing to protect the rights or the privacy of its citizens whether here or overseas, and while the state governments are hell-bent on annihilating people's rights.
In April, an Australian human rights lawyer, who works overseas and who has considerable status in her field both in Australia and overseas, was prevented from boarding a Virgin flight home, until she asked DFAT to explain the incident.
She recounted how Virgin staff had told her that she had been put on a "no fly list," for no apparent reason and that they had to stop her from flying home and notify Australian authorities.Virgin staff also allegedly told her that a US journalist copped similar treatment from the company. Incidents involving the intimidation of journalists by the government are worrying enough for countries with a constitutional right to a free press.Oscar-nominated doco maker Laura Poitras was also detained by authorities, who told her that she could not pick up a pen during her interrogation by armed security forces, because she was too intimidating when she was writing. Today, news appeared on the web about a similar incident involving Virgin, in which a family was escorted off a plane because their toddler was on a "no fly list."