Six of the seven justices in Australia's High Court have ruled that a section of the South Australian anti-bikie laws is unconstitutional, and thus invalidated. The section obliges courts to issue control orders against bikies at the Government's instruction. This, says Chief Justice Robert French, distorts the court's institutional integrity and puts its independence at risk.
Many now wonder how this ruling will affect other states with similar legislation, especially New South Wales and Queensland, who use South Australia as a model.
NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, believes that the attempts to tighten control stems from a reaction to the threat of terrorism.
"What the legislatures seem to be doing is taking extraordinary and quite exceptional powers that are being assigned to the fight against terrorism and seeking to employ them in campaigns against what I would call ordinary crime in respect of which we have perfectly serviceable provisions in our criminal laws already."
Mr. Cowdery expresses hope that the ruling will cause changes across the country. Others believe that the decision will only apply to South Australia's unique legislation. "Those laws, such as NSW and Queensland, which have given the decision-making over to the judicial arm of Government have really ensured themselves against the kind of complain which has undone South Australian law", says constitutional law expert Andrew Lynch, of the University of NSW.
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