Bikie laws a ‘blow’ to club freedom

By Natasha Boddy
The West Australian

The Veterans Motorcycle Club WA has joined a campaign against proposed anti-bikie laws, saying they threaten everything they fought for.

Club spokesman Jason Buchanan said the State Government’s anti-association laws, which are due to be debated in the Upper House next week, were repressive and threatened the democratic right of freedom of association.

“It’s a kick in the teeth to the 110,000 service personnel who have lost their lives defending simple freedoms such as gathering and associating,” he said.

“It’s very embarrassing to sit there and watch politicians talk about freedom and respect and the memory of our fallen soldiers and for them to be involved in radical legislation like this.”

The VMCWA, which has about 25 members, is a social group for former members of the Australian Defence Force.

“We do a lot more than just ride bikes – we’re active in the community, do community service work and fundraising events,” said Mr Buchanan, who has served in the Royal Australian Navy and as a reservist.

He said the laws would do little to curb the activities of criminal organisations and he feared some groups and organisations could be unfairly hit by the legislation.

“Will it stop organisations such as ourselves from meeting? That’s the intention of these laws and that’s the end result of what they want to do,” he said.

“It’s law and order propaganda by the WA Government, it’s what it can turn into and evolve into that’s the biggest concern.

“These laws are wide sweeping, they’re not just for bikies.”

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the Criminal Organisation Control Bill aimed to destroy the core operations of outlaw motorcycle gangs and other criminal organisations in WA.

He said there was “no conceivable way” the laws would affect groups which did not engage in criminal activity.

“This legislation provides the right balance in terms of giving our police and justice system the tools they need to fight organised crime, as well as ensuring groups who do not engage in criminal activity are not caught by the anti-association provisions,” he said.

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