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Bikie Gangs -- Injunctions Down Under

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Aleisha Orr of the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Lawyers have spoken against the West Australian government's plan to adopt the toughest organised crime laws in the country, which could see bikies banned from associating.

Attorney General Christian Porter hopes to shatter the core of outlaw bikie gangs with the new law, which would make WA's organised crime laws the toughest in the country.

"For a range of prescribed offences which may be committed by members of organised crime, courts would be required to impose at least two years imprisonment - or for more serious offences, at least 75 per cent of the statutory maximum penalty for the offence," he said.

He said bikie gangs operated on the basis of secrecy, high visibility and fear and these laws would make people less likely to want to be recognised as being a member of a bikie gang.

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The Criminal Organisation Control Bill 2011 would mean outlaw motorcycle gangs could be considered as Declared Criminal Organisations and their members would be targeted by a range of policing measures.

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Under the legislation, the Police Commissioner or the Corruption and Crime Commissioner could make an application against a group which associates for the purpose of organising, planning and facilitating criminal activity.

A judge would then consider the application and once a criminal organisation had been declared, members' could be banned from associating with other controlled persons, going to banned locations,  promoting the organisation or transferring funds to the organisation.

A breach of a control order would result in up to two years jail for the first offence or five years jail for subsequent offences.

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Attorney General Christian Porter said he knew there would be some resistance to the new laws but was confident they were constitutional and would stand up to any challenges.

He said some of the state's best legal minds had been working on creating the legislation for three years and that the bill had been informed by the appeals against similar laws in other states.

Mr Porter said the issue that was brought to the High Court in South Australia was in regard to the Attorney General being the person who declared criminal organisations.

There was a concern that this breached the integrity of the separation of powers.

"Here it will be a judge or a retired judge," he said.

In New South Wales an appeal against similar laws was on the basis that no reasons had to be given as to why it was that an organisation was declared criminal.

"Under the proposed WA system, they have to give reasons and they are published in a Government Gazette," he said.

Mr Porter said the aim of the Bill was to create a thorough process for declaring an organisation 'criminal' but once it was declared, it was easy to take steps to act.

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