Gang Laws Rushed Through Parliament

(9.02pm February 15 2012, Parliament House Sydney)

I wish to make a brief contribution to what I consider to be a pretty terrible debate. In 2009 I opposed the former Government's introduction of laws to declare certain gangs as criminal and to make a declaration that certain people are members of the gang and cannot associate with each other. I opposed the introduction of those laws. I called a division and I voted on my own. I opposed the legislation because it was rushed through Parliament although it had a serious impact on basic civil rights.

The recent spate of bikie violence has been shocking but it does not justify rushing legislation through Parliament. Legislation should lie on the table for five days to enable members to be informed and to consult. If it is landmarked legislation, it should lie on the table for 28 days. The Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Bill 2012 reintroduces the previous Government's legislation, which was rushed through, quickly amended and then struck down by the High Court. At the time, legal experts—including the Law Society of New South Wales—and civil rights defenders—including the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties—said that the new powers were not needed and would not halt organised crime. They also said that the bill eroded fundamental human rights. After passage of the bill, the then Legislative Review Committee reported serious concerns about the move away from the presumption of innocence, breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the failure to exclude organisations such as environment and animal rights groups involved in direct action.

This bill is about establishing whether people are criminals and are associated with criminal activity and debate should focus on whether this approach will reduce the criminal activity about which the community is so concerned. I remain uncertain that this bill will reduce crime and I am very disappointed about the processes that have occurred and the manner in which this bill has been summarily pushed through Parliament today.