The proposed laws are about combating the menace of outlaw motorcycle gangs and their associates and will not impinge on weekend Harley-Davidson riding enthusiasts.
The police cannot simply pull motorbike riders over – they must have reasonable cause to suspect the riders are engaged in a criminal activity.
But already those with vested interests have begun a campaign to suggest these laws herald the start of a police state.
That’s Tim Priest writing in the Australian this morning. Gee for a moment there I was very concerned at the expansion of police powers and mission creep. You know the sort of thing: where US RICO legislation was used, not against organised crime, but against investment bankers. It could never happen here. We’re so lucky.
Perhaps this sort of thing is only limited to the Australian Crime Commission who used their star chamber power to investigate supplements in sports. Here is a description of the star chamber they have from the AFR this week:
It’s the little touches that make it feel special inside the Australian Crime Commission’s coercive examination room – Australia’s version of the medieval Star Chamber where those summonsed have a stark choice of answering all questions or going straight to jail.
The examination box sits about half a metre in front of the desk where the examinee’s lawyer sits so that there’s no chance of any non-verbal cues. Adjacent to the bronze coat of arms on the rear wall is a camera that silently records every facial twitch and bead of sweat. A Bible for swearing one’s oath sits on a desk bolted to the ground; a precaution to ensure the table is not picked up and hurled at somebody.
Bolting down the table is perhaps reasonable given the methamphetamine-running bikie gangs who make up the bread and butter of work for the ACC. The design features in its examination room, where it can exercise powers to extract evidence that are entrusted to no other police force, reflect the fact that it deals with some violent offenders. But it has also seen the likes of mild-mannered businessmen caught up in the Operation Wickenby probe into offshore tax evasion, and more recently those caught in the Project Aperio investigation into the trade of peptides and growth hormones to professional athletes.
I also noticed this graphic providing evidence of the impact the ACC is having. See a nice upward trend in people being charged (not actually convicted mind you). Look closely at the x-axis.
Instead of running left to right, it runs right to left. Yes – there has been a decline in the number of people being charged.
In the meantime the Victorian police are losing the war on disorganised crime. Here is Ken Lay asking criminals not to beat their wives and kids.
I know I’m banging a drum, but I want men to fill the vacuum of male leadership on this. I’m not suggesting that male voices are more authoritative – that would be absurd – or that blokes can solve this alone. It’s simply to correct an absence of male voices. We must help fix this together.
To the men already standing up: excellent, but remember we need much more than outrage and good intentions. We need a sophisticated understanding of these issues. Take the time to study it, talk about it with friends.
We need a police chief who spends more time tackling crime (a member of parliament was attacked walking into the parliament this week), and less time designing new outfits, and less time coming up with ingenious methods to book more motorists speeding.
The authorities need to spend more time working out how to enforce the laws we have within the limits imposed by the sensibilities of a liberal democracy.