Qld gang consorting laws to be reviewed

·2-min read

Queensland's anti-consorting laws have helped disrupt outlaw bikie gang rides and meetings, dismantle criminal networks and made the state safer, police say.

It has been illegal to habitually consort with criminal gang members in the state since 2013, although the laws have been tweaked twice by the current Palaszczuk government.

Since the laws were introduced, police have issued 2000 warnings for consorting and charged 33 people with habitual consorting.

Hundreds of charges have also been levelled against those wearing gang colours or insignia in public.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman says the effectiveness of changes to consorting laws, passed in 2017, will be reviewed by former District Court judge Julie Dick.

The review, which is required every five years, will also examine whether having serious and organised crime as an aggravating factor in sentencing and good behaviour laws is meeting its objectives.

"Combined with her extensive practice in criminal law at the Bar and her role as the inaugural Parliamentary Criminal Justice Commissioner, former Judge Dick could not be more highly experienced to undertake this important review," Ms Fentiman said in a statement.

The Queensland Police Service says the introduction of the laws has been significant and helped make the community safer.

"The impact of these is not necessarily seen in charges, convictions or the sentencing of individuals," the QPS told AAP.

Police have used the laws to target gang members, preventing them from establishing, maintaining or expanding criminal networks.

"The benefits for the Queensland community are demonstrated in the networks being dismantled through the warnings and operations and their inability to meet,'' the QPS said.

"The use of the consorting legislation has delivered a safer environment in the restaurants and clubs."

The Palaszczuk government passed the laws in 2017 to replace the former Newman government's controversial VLAD laws, which were brought in after a notorious bikie brawl at a Gold Coast tapas bar in 2013.

Ms Fentiman said the laws were designed to target criminal gangs committing serious crimes, including trafficking dangerous drugs, unlawfully supplying weapons, possessing child exploitation material and fraud.

Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia all have some form of anti-consorting laws aimed at criminal gangs.

In 2019 the High Court upheld NSW consorting laws against a challenge brought by Rebels bikie gang members.

Lawyers for Rebels members Damien Vella, Johnny Vella and Michael Fetui argued the laws were invalid because the powers were too broad and in breach of the Constitution.

However, a majority of the High Court found the NSW preventative order regime gave courts "substantial judicial discretion".

There were "good reasons why such powers, if they are to exist, should be exercised by the judiciary" rather than the government, the High Court said.

Attorneys-general in Queensland, WA, SA and Victoria joined in the case because of the potential implications for their own laws.