New Laws to Combat Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs Introduced to Tasmanian Parliament

Friday 6 July 2018 @ 10.13 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research

The Police Offences Amendment (Prohibited Insignia) Bill 2018 (Bill No 21 of 2018) ("the Bill") was introduced to Tasmania’s House of Assembly by the Hon Michael Ferguson MP on 21 June 2016. The Bill is currently before the House of Assembly where it is awaiting further discussion.

The Bill proposes to make miscellaneous amendments to the Police Offences Act 1935 (Tas) ("the Act").

Objective of the Bill

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (the EM), the objective of the Bill is to introduce:

“… [a] new offence into section 6 of the Police Offences Act 1935. The Bill also provides an objective for this new offence that has two components. The first objective of the offence is to ensure that members of the public may lawfully use and pass through public places without experiencing fear or intimidation, because other persons are visibly wearing or carrying prohibited items. The second objective is to reduce the likelihood of public disorder or acts of violence in public places.”

The definition of the new prohibited item offence states that:

“.. a person who is in a public place, or in a vehicle that is in a public place, must not wear or carry a prohibited item that, if another person were in the public place, would be visible to the other person.”

The Bill’s EM indicates that a prohibited item is any piece of clothing, jewellery, or other accessory that displays:

  • the name of an identified organisation; or
  • the club patch, insignia or logo of an identified organisation; or
  • an image, symbol, abbreviation, acronym or other form of writing that indicates membership of, or in association with, an identified organisation.

Brief Overview of the Amendments

According to the Bill’s Additional Explanatory Memorandum, the addition of a new section 6A will introduce a new offence into the Act by banning the wearing or carrying of prohibited items in a public place, while the introduction of new section 6B outlines the process for search, seizure and forfeiture of prohibited items.

Existing section 55(2D) to the principal Act is amended by inserting the text "section 6A(7) or (8)", after "under".

Comment and Reaction from the Minister

In a recent Media Release  the Minister made some comments about the introduction of the new legislation:

“… One of the biggest threats to public safety and security is the danger posed by serious drugs like methamphetamine, also known as ice or speed. It is known that organised criminal groups, such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, are heavily involved in the importation and distribution of dangerous drugs into Tasmania … the Government has committed, as part of its 100-Day Plan, to develop laws aimed at disrupting these gangs …”

In a Second Reading Speech to the House of Assembly, the Minister said:

“… Tasmanian OMCGs, such as the Rebels, Outlaws and Bandidos are part of worldwide gang franchises. These are franchises with significant global criminal histories. Police intelligence indicates that OMCGs are major participants in the importation and trafficking of methylamphetamine in Tasmania … Since 2000, senior gang members in Tasmania have been responsible for, and charged with, some of the most significant methamphetamine importations in the State’s history … Equally of concern to the Government, is the use and escalation of serious violence by members of rival gangs, or even the same gang in public places, to protect what they view as their ‘patch’ …”

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Police Offences Amendment (Prohibited Insignia) Bill 2018 (Tas) Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service.

Position Paper - Organised Criminal Groups Legislation – Tasmania Police, Hon Michael Ferguson MP (26 April 2018, accessed 6 July 2018)

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