UPDATE: THE majority of the High Court has rejected a challenge to the Queensland Government’s controversial anti-bikie laws.
- GOLD COAST BULLETIN
- NOVEMBER 14, 2014
In a summary judgement released this morning from Canberra, the court said the legislation was not unconstitutional.
It had been argued the laws were an attack on the judiciary and freedom of speech.
But the court said that argument was “not accepted”
“The majority of the court held that these laws did not require the courts to proceed otherwise than in accordance with the processes which are understood to characterise the exercise of judicial power,” the summary judgement said.
The court also found that because Hells Angels Motorcycle Club member Stefan Kuczborski had never been charged under the laws he had no standing to seek them declared invalid.
Gold Coast criminal lawyer Bill Potts said it was effectively the end of the challenge.
“The High Court by a majority, that is not unanimously, has effectively rejected the validity to the challenge and found it had no standing,” he said.
“Now what that means is that they felt that because he had not been charged with any offence, that there were no restrictions placed on him by the legislation.
“Effectively the bikie challenge is dead.
“It may be that another person, with proper standing, a proper claim and a proper challenge may have some luck.”
EARLIER: THE fate of Queensland’s controversial anti-bikie laws will be decided this morning when the High Court of Australia will rule on their validity.
The full bench of the High Court of Australia is expected to hand down its landmark findings to decide the legitimacy of the Newman-led LNP Government’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD) 2013.
In September, the seven-member panel heard two days of argument in Brisbane about the validity of the VLAD laws and related legislation prohibiting bikies from gathering in public and imposing lengthy prison sentences on gang members convicted of crimes, among other measures.
Lawyers for Hells Angels Motorcycle Club member Stefan Kuczborski argue the “suite of laws and amendments’’ introduced by the Newman Government was unconstitutional and should be declared invalid.
Queensland Solicitor-General Peter Dunning, for the Government, argued there was nothing wrong with the laws and the court should rule them valid.
He submitted Mr Kuczborski had no standing in the High Court, an argument backed by Australia’s Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, SC, on behalf of the Commonwealth.
Mr Gleeson said the Federal Government also adopted the submissions of the State Government to support their case.
Solicitors-General from NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory also argued in support of the VLAD laws in the hope they too can introduce similar legislation.
Should the High Court rule in favour of Mr Kuczborski, it could lead to the scrapping or redrafting of the legislation, as well as to the dropping of charges currently levelled at other so-called dangerous bikies or vicious lawless offenders.
Alternately, the court could opt against making a finding at all if it deems Mr Kuczborski does in fact have no standing to argue his case before them.
“If we win we will get our lives back because a lot of us work in the motorcycle industry and it is losing $5 million a week while these laws are in place,” United Motorcycle Council of Queensland spokesman and 33-year Rebels member Mick Kosenko said.
“If we don’t win we have a number of avenues we have to go down and, of course, there is the election early next year.
“I’ve got no problem with people being punished for criminal acts but I do have a problem when an innocent person is put in jail just for going to dinner with his wife.”
Gold Coast criminal lawyer Bill Potts said the High Court’s decision was not about whether the laws were liked.
“It is not about whether the law is right or wrong, popular or unpopular … the High Court is looking at the narrow constitutional issues,” he said.
“The High Court is very careful and detailed because it is making the decision not only for Queensland but it may affect the way in which both the Commonwealth and other states legislate.”