“All one has to do is show on evidence that they are not associated or affiliated with criminal gangs, it will be based on evidence from the CMC and police, and if they can’t prove they are not associated or not affiliated with criminal gang activity, then their licence will be suspended. But if they [have] no association, no affiliation and they can prove that for some period of time they haven’t been associating or affiliating with those criminal gangs, then they continue to hold their licence.” – QLD Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie, January 21 2014.
If you’re a tradie who depends on a ticket for their livelihood, the above statement from Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie should make you extremely nervous. While at first blush it may seem like the government is only going after the biggest, meanest and hairiest of the leather and tattoos brigade – and that’s certainly the way the Premier and Attorney General would like you to see it – closer inspection and analysis would demonstrate that nearly any Queensland tradie could end up losing his or her ticket over nebulous definitions of “association”. The Attorney General’s own words show that the government is not only targeting fully-fledged, patched members of the two-dozen or so motorcycle clubs that it has added to it’s list of outlawed organisations, but casting the net so wide as to include anyone who has a current or past association or affiliation with a club.
While you may feel that you have no association or affiliation with a motorcycle club or its members, I don’t know of any tradespeople who routinely check their customers for motorcycle club membership. The first you may know about your supposed affiliation with a motorcycle club might be the day that the police revoke your qualifications based on the fact that five years ago you installed a safety switch for a member of an organisation that was – at the time – perfectly legal. If that sounds like a stretch consider that one of the five men locked up over the Christmas break for having a beer together at the Yandina pub was deemed an “associate” of the motorcycle club because he had installed guttering at a clubhouse some time previously – in his capacity as a builder – despite never having owned a motorcycle or participated in club functions.
At any rate. The idea that the government can revoke qualifications on a whim, and deny law-abiding, tax-paying men and women the right to earn an honest living through a respectable trade based on conduct that was – at the time – perfectly legal is simply abhorrent to anyone who values the principles of fairness and equality in the eyes of the law. As far as I know there is absolutely zero support in the wider community for revoking the licences of people involved with motorcycle clubs. When I hire a sparky, the only thing I’m concerned about is whether or not he knows enough about his trade to do the job in a professional manner. What clothes he likes to wear on the weekend, how he chooses to spend his leisure time and who he likes to hang around with outside of work are completely irrelevant to his capacity to do a decent job and therefore should have no bearing on whether or not he keeps his licence. What’s next Mr Bleijie, are we going to start revoking lawyers’ practising certificates if they represent motorcycle club members in court? How far will this attack on democracy go?