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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 5025

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (4:15 PM) —I acknowledge the other members of the committee and, while supporting the recommendations in the report, I—unlike, maybe, others—do not see the issue of outlaw motorcycle gangs in serious criminal organisations as a minor issue; I see it as a major issue. You will see at page 161 of the report—it is not labelled as page 161—a statement from Family First and the Liberals. It says that I and Family First:

... certainly believe that outlaw motorcycle gangs are serious criminal organisations and to believe otherwise is a dangerous misconception. Outlaw motorcycle gangs are still a major player in serious and organised crime in Australia, particularly in the illegal drug trade.

I do not want that to be taken as a minor issue; it is still a major issue, and I am concerned that this report, without these comments from the Liberals and Family First, potentially goes soft on outlaw motorcycle gangs and some of the behaviour that they get up to. It is a fairly major issue when you see bikies bashing each other to death in public. Mums and dads get concerned when it is only metres away from kids and other people, and I think that just highlights how serious this issue is. I do not see us dealing with serious and organised crime by saying, ‘That’s not so major; let’s just focus on the big fish and cover unexplained wealth.’ I am a big supporter of provisions to deal with unexplained wealth because they go to the heart of the finances of serious and organised crime. But to see outlaw motorcycle gangs as not needing to have laws put in place nationally to deal with them is, I think, potentially a very dangerous place to be. I quote from an article in the Australian on 15 April 2009, where Senator Hutchins says:

From my point of view, bikies beating to death some bloke at Sydney airport, do you really see that as some sort of overworked criminal operation? They weren’t even in colours.

I am a little concerned about those sorts of statements—‘We won’t worry about that so much because we are worried about serious and organised crime.’ We have an opportunity in parliament, in the Senate, to make strong recommendations after seeing the laws that were passed in South Australia and in New South Wales. The Queensland government has made comments about going the same way and putting association laws in place that would actually get tougher on this thuggery that I think most Australians and Australian families would be concerned about.

I want to make it quite clear that Family First believes we should have stronger national association laws, and we should have uniform laws across Australia so that we do not see the problem just shifting to different states. It has been reported that the laws that some states have around association and outlaw motorcycle gangs will maybe cause those gangs to move to other states with weaker laws. That is a real concern to me. I do not think Australians should be terrorised by outlaw gangs that refuse to operate within the boundaries of our society. We need to go a lot further and that is the reason I have put my name to some stronger statements in regard to outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Many innocent people were frightened and traumatised by the horrific attack at Sydney Airport, and we must ensure that we have laws in place to prevent another episode such as that. I do not want to undermine the unexplained wealth recommendations, but I certainly do not want to be seen to be going soft on this issue. It is not a case of either/or and it is not a case of just getting the unexplained wealth legislation in place; we should also be putting in place national association laws across the country.