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Bikie laws burden freedom of association

Bikie laws burden freedom of association

Commenting on the recent High Court ruling relating to South Australia's bikie laws, the Law Council of Australia (LCA) has voiced its concern about the South Australian legislation, labelling…

Commenting on the recent High Court ruling relating to South Australia's bikie laws, the Law Council of Australia (LCA) has voiced its concern about the South Australian legislation, labelling the laws as a potential burden on the freedom of association.

LCA president Glenn Ferguson noted that, while the High Court decision demonstrated the vigilance with which the integrity and independence of the courts is safeguarded in Australia, the matter was decided on relatively narrow grounds and the court was not concerned with evaluating the legislation from either a public policy or human rights perspective.

The LCA said it has a number of concerns with the South Australian legislation, and similar legislation operating in other jurisdictions, which the High Court was not required or even able to consider.

"The so called anti-bikie laws, which have spread across Australia, are an unfortunate example of Australia's anti-terror laws creeping into and influencing ordinary law enforcement," Ferguson said.

"These laws try to shift the focus of criminal liability from a person's conduct to their associations. As a result they have the potential to unduly burden freedom of association. They also have a disproportionately harsh effect on certain sections of the population who may be exposed to the risk of criminal sanction simply because of their family or community connections."

While acknowledging the fight against organised crime is an important one, Ferguson highlighted the importance of implementing legislation that does not diminish the rights and freedoms of the Australian people or turn traditional notions of criminal justice on their head.

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