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Draconian and undemocratic: Why Bikie laws won't work
Outspoken critic, group spokesperson and club founder discuss
August 5, 2009
Professor Paul Wilson, Ferret and Rev Dr John (Bullfrog) Smith
New anti biker legislation was introduced in South Australia and New South Wales in 2009 resulting from a brawl at Sydney Airport in March involving up to 15 people and resulting in one death. Queensland , Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have all flagged their intention to follow suit.
The new laws give police the power to apply to for an order that would ban members identified in outlawed motorcycle gangs from associating with each other. These laws lower the burden of proof for biker gang-related crimes from ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ to ‘on the balance of probabilities’.
Critics have described the laws, which specify targeted groups, as draconian, undemocratic and a breach of civil liberties.
Professor Paul Wilson is the Professor of Criminology at Bond University and an outspoken critic of these new laws which he sees as selective, dangerous and ineffective. He feels these association laws are misplaced given the small amount of serious crime biker groups are involved in. There is a stronger argument for such laws to be applied to some financial advisors and bankers, criminal police officers and some men of the cloth than there is with bikers.
Professor Wilson will draw relevant comparisons with Canada, Scandinavia and the United States, where laws targeting groups rather than individuals have failed to significantly reduce crime rates, particularly in outlaw motorcycle groups. Professor Wilson believes that in deciding how to deal with any type of organised crime, including biker crime, modern democratic governments should not be persuaded by political propaganda or lobbying by interest groups, but rather, by evidence-based research and best practice.
Professor Wilson will be joined by bikers Ferret and Dr John Smith.
Ferret is the spokesperson for the United Motorcycle Council NSW. UMCNSW is a coalition of 18 motorcycle clubs and aims to provide clubs and individuals with an avenue for dispute resolution. It also aims to break down some of the negative stereotypes about motorcycle clubs and members, and allow bikers to have a say in issues that affect them. Widely known in the Sydney motorcycle community- Ferret has a wealth of knowledge about the interests and values of motorcycle clubs and their members. He has been a member of The Finks for 22 years and is currently a member of Blacktown Chapter.
As a small business owner in Sydney’s Western suburbs, Ferret enjoys the sense of brotherhood and passion for motorcycles the motorcycle club brings to his life. Ferret has been a bike enthusiast since he was a kid. Now with two daughters and five grandkids of his own, he is proud to be nominated as a spokesperson for a community that has become an important part of his life.
“In Australia we have communities based around surfing and hanging out at the beach. Other people gather to watch V8 racecars on their weekends. Most people have something in their lives they like to share with others. Bikies like to meet other people who are enthusiastic about motorcycles.”
Rev Dr John “Bullfrog” Smith is International and Founding President of God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club which has been operating in Melbourne for 38 years. God’s Squad (the club primarily exists to minister among the 'outlaw biker fraternity' and associated groups, where it is an accepted and relevant expression of the Christian church). It has 8 other chapters around Australia and is also now located in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Norway, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, USA and the Ukraine. John is also founder and Director of Mission and Ethos of Concern Australia (a Christian mission, advocacy and welfare organisation) and is currently Visiting Scholar at St Mark’s Theological College in Canberra.
John is an author, a business speaker, a teacher and lecturer, a biker, a defender of the poor and marginalised, a lover of jazz and blues music, a gifted evangelist and a prominent social communicator. He has a doctorate majoring in Cultural Anthropology.
He was a member of the Prime Minister’s Australia 2020 Summit, “Strengthening Communities, Supporting Families and Social Inclusion” stream.
John’s involvement in the human rights debate extends from civil disobedience in Queensland on behalf of aborigines to incarceration and sentencing to execution on the Philippines island of Mindanao for human rights protests on behalf of peasant villagers (his release was in part due to the media’s involvement).
He is as much at home talking to business leaders, academics, church leaders, politicians and the media, as he is with school children, university students, the poor and marginalised, and outlaw motorcycle club members. He is welcome in most of the motorcycle clubhouses around Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and has spoken at churches and music festivals all over the world.