Australia's High Court ruled today that part of South Australia's anti-bikie laws are invalid, after six of its seven judges found the control orders unconstitutional. This is good news for members of outlaw motorcycle clubs, a prominent problem in the region.
The case highlights the manner in which the law obligates courts to issue control orders at the whim of the Government. The hearing found that this provision authorises the executive to enlist the Magistrates Court in implementing its decisions, and that the manner in which this occurs is incompatible with the Court's institutional integrity.
The findings point out that the law obliges the Court to impose serious restraints on a person's liberty, regardless of whether they had committed or was ever likely to commit a criminal offence.
In spite of these findings, the law was not entirely rejected. The case specifically focused on section 14, which relates to issuing control orders.
South Australia's Attorney-General John Rau described the outcome as "an annoyance in terms of the ongoing program". "Our resolution in relation to dealing with organised crime has not changed. Our resolution in terms of supporting the police in their work in relation to organised crime has not changed".
Many are awaiting the impact of this decision on other states, which looked to South Australia's model as a potential means for dealing with their own bikie gangs.
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