The Queensland Government’s anti-bikie laws are targeting a property that has not had any bikie connections for six years and a “criminal organisation” that experts say does not exist in Australia.
Police have acknowledged “mistakes” in the legislation and the Government says it will move quickly to amend the laws to fix any problems.
But the revelations are likely to fuel criticism that the laws were hastily drafted, and raise fears that groups or addresses can be added or removed at the Government’s whim.
A list of “prescribed places” in the legislation includes an industrial shed in Caboolture, north of Brisbane, where a man linked to the Rebels motorcycle club once operated a car gearbox repair business.
But the property owner, neighbours and the new owner of the business have told the ABC the man moved out at the end of 2007 and has not been back.
Doug Meikle, who bought the property in July 2006, said he found out his shed was on the list when a reporter contacted him.
“Monday last week I got informed it was a bikie haven,” he said.
Mr Meikle and his son run a small concreting and construction business from the premises.
“I rang my local member Jarrod Bleijie and then later in the day two police officers came and interviewed me. I’ve had another call from the Attorney-General’s office … [police] asked for copies of contracts from when we purchased the shed and we have not heard anything more,” he said.
“I’ve been given no all-clear of any sort. It would be nice to know we are clean. I can tell you I’m clean, but the Government don’t think so.”
Banned Scorpions organisation ‘does not exist in Australia’
The same piece of legislation names the Scorpions motorcycle club as a banned “criminal organisation”.
But experts on Australian criminal gangs and motorcycle clubs say that while there is a Scorpions motorcycle club with several chapters in the US, there is no trace of such an organisation ever having a presence here.
“We’re not really sure who they are,” Queensland University of Technology criminologist Mark Lauchs said.
“Searches of all the Government documents and other things online has turned up references to a number of groups that they may be referring to, such as the Red Scorpions or the Scorpion Boys in Western Australia.
“There’s only one reference I can find to a group called the Scorpions and that was a group that was associating with another outlaw motorcycle group in Perth, but they certainly weren’t called an outlaw motorcycle group themselves.”
Russell ‘Camel’ Wattie, a former member of the Outcasts motorcycle club and until this month the spokesman for the United Motorcycle Council Queensland, said the group was unknown.
“We’ve asked around here in Australia. Nobody knows of them, nobody has heard of them,” he said.
“[It’s] just very poor intel from the Government’s part if they’re including a club that doesn’t exist on their list of prohibited people.”
There are also claims the Government is using the wrong “colours” or club insignia for the Outcasts, Coffin Cheaters and Iron Horsemen, which appear on a crib sheet sent to all licensed premises in Queensland this week.
Bars and hotels face big fines if they are caught serving anyone displaying anything that indicates they belong to one of the 26 banned clubs.
The Government has already been forced to amend the legislation once, when it was feared lawyers could be captured by the provisions banning three or more gang associates from meeting.
On Tuesday night there was a further change. A law stating gang members convicted of certain violent crimes “must be imprisoned for one year” was changed to make it “a minimum of one year”.
Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey today denied the legislation was rushed.
“Not at all. We made sure that we conversed with all members of the judicial system,” he said.
He said any errors would be corrected.