Harsh new laws to stymie the spread of bikie gangs in Queensland will see members of such groups barred from working on construction sites by the second half of 2015 despite the extension of an ongoing trade union inquiry.
The Newman state government has confirmed that new licensing restrictions slated to come into effect on July 2 will prohibit both members and associates of bikie gangs from engaging in work on construction sites in Queensland.
The ban on bikies in the building industry was originally scheduled to come into effect at the start of July last year and would have required the members of various trades, including electricians, plumbers and builders, severe ties with the members of motorcycle gangs or be de-registered.
Just two weeks prior to its scheduled commencement, however, the government announced that the ban would be delayed for 12 months in order for the Federal Government to conduct a trade union inquiry.
While the inquiry has been extended by another 12 months in order to pursue further investigations, the office of Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie has confirmed that there are currently no plans to defer the licensing restrictions as a result.
The Newman government has implemented harsh new laws directed against Queensland’s bikie gangs over the past year, in direct response to a violent brawl between the Bandidos and the Finks that took place in Broadbeach toward the end of 2013.
The state government estimates that over 300 of an estimated 1,500 outlaw bikies in Queensland have withdrawn from their former gangs in response to the strict raft of measures.
While the crackdown has proved effective in curbing the scope and activities of outlaw motorcycle gangs, civil rights advocates have complained that some of the measures are excessive.
Unions have also criticised changes to licensing requirements, with John Battams, president of the Queensland Council of Unions, calling the them “too broad a brush” for dealing with the problem of bikie gangs.
The Electrical Trades Union has been particularly critical of the slated licensing changes, claiming that they would imperil the employment prospects of innocent workers without criminal backgrounds.
According to ETU state secretary Peter Simpson at least 50 members of the union could be unjustly affected by the new licensing requirements.
“It’s manifestly unfair to pick on people because of who they hang around with,” said Simpson.