Government strengthens and expands serious organised crime laws in Queensland

Published Monday, 04 April, 2016 at 04:58 PM


Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Minister for Corrective Services
The Honourable Bill Byrne

The Palaszczuk Government will introduce a new regime of laws to tackle serious organised crime in Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said today.

“These laws will form the strongest and most robust serious organised crime legislation in the nation,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Our planned regime will give the police and our courts workable, enforceable laws to convict those involved in all forms of serious crime.

“They will retain elements of the 2013 laws and 2009 Criminal Organisations Act that were found to be effective.

“They will replace those that are compromised, vulnerable to challenge or ineffective, and build on the robust and effective legislation already in place in other jurisdictions.

“They will empower police to bring down individuals in criminal organisations, be they child sex predators, drug traffickers, boiler-room fraudsters or outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“The gangs can expect no let-up from the police and prosecutors. I want more convictions, not less.

“I want criminals locked up and serving time for the crimes they commit.

“I reassure Queenslanders the current laws will remain in place until the new legislation is enforced, and we will do this in transitional arrangements with the Police.

“These laws are to ensure our community and our policemen and women are safe.”

Cabinet has started working through the 60 recommendations. Cabinet did not resolve to accept all the recommendations. However, a full consideration of the recommendations will occur with key stakeholders and the Queensland Police Service.

Cabinet today committed to a new regime that will include:

  • targeted consorting laws
  • new Organised Crime Control Orders
  • additional jail sentences with mandatory provision for serious organised crime

Cabinet has also resolved:

  • to ensure OMCG clubhouses remain closed
  • the wearing of OMCG colours in licensed premises to remain banned

Further, Cabinet has agreed to seek to extend beyond licensed premises, a prohibition on persons displaying colours in public places beyond the current prohibition for licensed premises.

“Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members comprise only a portion of the threat that criminal organisations pose in this state,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“However, they are a very visible and intimidating part of organised crime.

“Queenslanders deserve to know that their safety is protected by strong laws – operationally strong enough to combat every form of organised crime, and legally strong enough to secure convictions that won’t be overturned.”

The proposed package overcomes serious flaws in the 2013 suite, including the risk identified by Taskforce Chair Alan Wilson QC that “in their current form the offences will be difficult to prosecute successfully and may be constitutionally invalid”.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the laws rushed through parliament in 2013 were about exploiting fear for political gain rather than facing the real challenge of combatting organised crime.

“The Taskforce report and that of the Commission of Inquiry make it clear that the existing laws are vulnerable to any legal challenge that is highly likely to come before the High Court,” Mrs D’Ath said

“The fight against organised crime should never be a gamble. We cannot gamble with public safety.”

In the Taskforce’s words, the proposed package of laws will be “better suited to combatting not just OMCGs, but organised crime in all its forms.”

The Taskforce makes it clear the existing laws fail to adequately address other threats to Queenslanders, from child sex predators to evolving forms of organised crime syndicates.

In the report, Taskforce Chair Alan Wilson QC describes these groups as “more fluid in size, structure and make-up” which leaves them “camouflaged and adaptable”.

“This is a thorough, comprehensive and rigorous report that comes after nine months of careful consideration,” Mrs D’Ath said.

The Government proposes to introduce new organised crime legislation by August 2016, with the aim that new laws could be passed as early as the end of this year.

Parliament will be afforded ample time to properly consider the full package of laws.

Unlike the Newman Government, this Government will ensure this new legislation will be properly scrutinised and considered through the parliamentary committee process.

Police Minister Bill Byrne said the new regime will ensure Queensland’s law enforcement agencies have access to the mechanisms necessary to maintain and enshrine public safety:

  • continued capability to respond to overt criminal groups including OMCG;
  • new capability to respond to ‘loose fitting’ criminal networks;
  • deterring persons from participating in organised crime networks and offending;
  • encouraging persons to assist law enforcement in disrupting, dismantling and defeating criminal networks; and
  • promoting public confidence in Queensland as a safe place to live and invest in.

“That is why our crackdown on serious organised crime must be all-encompassing,” Mr Byrne said.

Mr Byrne said police and other key stakeholders will be involved in developing the new laws.

‘We will have rigorous and thorough consideration of these new laws to keep Queenslanders safe,” he said.

The existing laws will remain in place until the new legislation is enforced.

The government’s action arising from this Taskforce report, and the Commission of Inquiry into Organised Crime deliver on the government’s election commitment to tackle organised crime in all its forms across Queensland.

Ms Palaszczuk commended the Taskforce Chair Alan Wilson QC and the Taskforce members for their diligence and committed approach in providing their expertise in the development of this report.

Media contact: 3719 7000