New South Wales Solicitor-General, Michael Sexton SC, has told the High Court that the consorting laws being challenged by by Nomads bikie boss Sleiman Tajjour as well as the Australian Human Rights Commission would not infringe on individual rights and would legitimately prevent future crimes.
The AG was supported by four other state Attorney Generals who put in submissions supporting the NSW laws introduced in 2012 after a spate of drive-by shootings linked to bike wars.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has put forward a submission claiming the legislation could contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The submission was put forward on its behalf by leading barrister Bret Walker SC.
NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson said it was wrong for the Human Rights Commission to be aligned with bikies:
“Tony Abbott needs to explain why the person he appointed Human Rights Commissioner is standing up for bikies while removing protections from victims of racism and bigotry…We should be protecting the vulnerable in the community, not criminal gangs.”
The Human Rights Commissioner has refused to comment on the matter given that it is before the courts at the moment. Tajjour, who was convicted of manslaughter, declares that he should not be arrested for talking to someone who also had a record. He argued that this was not about him as he understands that the Australian public does look upon him and his associates in a positive light:
“A lot of people may not like us but this fight is not about me or bike gangs. It’s about everyone’s rights.”
Tajjour maintains that this fight was about freedom of speech and freedom of association.
Sexton told the High Court that criticism from the Human Rights Commission alleging that freedom of speech and association could be jeopardised by the law should be dismissed. He asserts that the law makes it illegal to “habitually consort” with anyone convicted of an indictable offence after being given an official warning by police. “Habitually consorting” is defined as consorting whether face-to-face or via social media like Facebook and Twitter with at least two convicted offenders on at least two occasions.
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