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SA Premier, Attorney-General receive personal -

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SA Premier, Attorney-General receive personal threats

The World Today - Friday, 15 May , 2009 12:38:00

PETER CAVE: South Australia's Premier Mike Rann and the State's Attorney-General Michael Atkinson
have both received personal threats against their safety in the lead up to the declaration of the
Finks motorcycle club as a serious criminal organisation.

Mr Atkinson received a death threat letter on Wednesday which he says he believes is linked to the
State's crackdown on bikie gangs.

The bikies are planning to challenge the laws in the courts and some people are concerned that the
crackdown will only push their activities further underground.

Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: It took five months of deliberations but South Australia's Attorney-General Michael
Atkinson has weighed up the police evidence and declared the Finks bikie gang officially outlawed.

The decision came at a price, with a death threat sent to his electorate office. But he says he's
determined that the threats against his personal safety will not deter the Government from pursuing
other bikie gangs.

MICHAEL ATKINSON: I often get abusive, anonymous material. This one said that there was a bullet
with my name on it.

Those kind of things happen but I will continue to go about my business and I will not be living in
fear of the opponents of this legislation.

NANCE HAXTON: The Premier Mike Rann has also reportedly received threats but a spokesman says the
Government does not comment on his security.

Forty-eight current and former Finks bikie gang members have been declared outlaws under state laws
which aim to treat bikies like terrorists.

The declaration means that current and former members of the club now face up to five years in jail
for associating with each other.

South Australian police can now apply for control orders against members of the Finks and have
indicated they are also putting together cases to have other bikie gangs outlawed.

The shadow attorney-general Isobel Redmond says while the Liberal Party supports the declaration,
she's concerned that the crackdown will push illegal bikie activity further underground.

ISOBEL REDMOND: Certainly there is some suggestion that even if you got rid of all the bikie gangs,
there'd be other people who would step into the fray and become involved in drug running or
prostitution or standover tactics or whatever.

And of course there's still also open the question of, you know, would the existence of a control
order have prevented bikies from walking into the Sydney air terminal and bashing someone to death
in the presence of security cameras, federal police and security officers?

So we are yet to see whether it will be effective.

NANCE HAXTON: But the Attorney-General Michael Atkinson says stopping bikie gang members meeting
together is a crucial step to stopping organised crime.

MICHAEL ATKINSON: I really don't know what this "driving them underground" means - they seem to be
pretty underground now, except that they do come out in the open and parade like the marching
season in Ulster, wearing their colours.

And you'll notice that I've never advocated banning the colours because if organised crime wants to
wear uniforms, I think that's an advantage for society.

Their members, former members and associates of the Finks motorcycle club are now subject to legal
disabilities that other citizens of South Australia are not subject to.

NANCE HAXTON: There are those who argue that the new laws and the declaration infringe on the
rights of ordinary people. South Australia's lone Democrat MP David Winderlich is one of them.

DAVID WINDERLICH: These are the kind of weapons that are used if you are under threat of invasion.
They are not the sort of measures you resort to to deal with criminality, to deal with street thugs
and violence. They go way too far.

If we are to sacrifice these kinds of freedoms to combat bikies, what will we do in the face of
more severe threats? It's a very dangerous step towards a police state.

NANCE HAXTON: A lawyer for members of the Finks, Craig Caldicott, says they plan to appeal the
legislation and the control orders all the way to the high court if necessary.

CRAIG CALDICOTT: What this law does is make persons who otherwise are innocent people, turns them
into criminals. They face five years' jail. There's a presumption against bail.

They will be incarcerated where they can associate with each other - there's no problem with that -
but they can't associate with each other outside jail. And that's how ludicrous this particular
piece of legislation is.

PETER CAVE: The Finks' lawyer, Craig Caldicott.