by Harley Jamieson
Pretty in pink – dealing with bikies in Queensland
In late September in the most public outbreak of bikie violence on Queensland’s Gold Coast, a violent brawl broke out in a Broadbeach restaurant. It was all caught on CCTV and broadcast later to an understandably apprehensive public.
It was the last straw for the Newman Government and they sprang into action. Previously bikie violence was very largely inter-gang warfare and, to be frank, nobody much cared if they assaulted and shot each other so long as they didn’t put members of the public at risk.
A flurry of announcements from the Government followed. A special police taskforce was set up to target the gangs and all sorts of hairy chested pronouncements made. Leading the charge was Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie who has become something of a poster boy for law and order.
He introduced the beautifully named Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Bill and it was rushed through Parliament, Yes, young Jarrod is now a latter-day Vlad the Impaler – and like the first Vlad, Jarrod is determined to restore law and order.
Under his legislation, twenty-six bikie gangs have been declared criminal organisations and their members are barred from their clubhouses, from gathering in groups of three or more, face the prospect of extra jail time on conviction of serious offences, are automatically refused bail and not allowed to work in tattoo parlours.
They should be grateful that they will not actually be impaled. We have come some little way since the 15th century fortunately.
The Police Commissioner Ian Stewart chimed in telling coppers that they should quit if they didn’t want to be part of the bikie crackdown. “If people aren’t prepared to do that, to step up when the going gets tough, then they really do need to consider another career,” he said.
For that bit of advice, he got a backhander from the Police Union who said officers didn’t need that sort of lecture one bit. To be fair, Queensland Police have a long history of doing their political masters bidding and sinking the boot – both metaphorically and actually - when absolutely necessary to protect civilisation.
The Government’s moves attracted the predictable opposition – from the Labor Opposition which tried to be critical out of habit but didn’t want to go too far and appear as sissy whimps, from the Australian Motorcycle Council which has launched a “fighting fund” to stage court challenges and from lawyers.
The Queensland Law Society tut-tutted that the VLAD legislation “applies to a much broader section of the community, beyond bikie gangs.”
“The principles of the VLAD Bill are so broadly drawn they can apply to any association or business, or anyone out in public with three people or more,” said President Annette Bradfield.
It was the sort of legal purity statement that does the legal profession no public good at all – as if the coppers are going to raid and arrest the Baptist Ladies Knitting Guild for having in their possession needles which they openly share.
As the Government’s campaign really hit its stride Attorney-General Bleijie bravely confirmed that he has his family had been threatened by bikies saying with a stiff upper lip, “There have been threats made. That’s as far as I am going.”
Then in came the Police and Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey – himself a former copper.
He announced that he had asked the Corrective Services Department to investigate changing the colour of prison uniforms, possibly to fluoro pink.
“We will start with members and associates of criminal gangs and will look at rolling it out to other inmates over time,” he said.
He got full marks from Premier Newman himself who observed about bikies, “They are bullies – they like to wear scary-looking gear, leather jackets, they have the tattoos, they have the colours. We know that telling them to wear pink is going to be embarrassing for them.”
We can all imagine, of course, some flabby middle-aged prison inmate who is doing time for fraud sneering at a bikie who is pretty in pink and saying something like, “What a sissy you are, you big girl’s blouse.”
From what I’ve seen of bikies, you could dress them in bras and suspender belts – the full drag in fact - and they would still look and be bloody frightening. And since the Government is planning to reopen Woodford Jail just for bikies, presumably they would be all in pink – so hardly much embarrassment.
Minister Dempsey has asked Corrective Services “to investigate the Arizona model to see if it would have any benefit in Queensland.”
The “Arizona model” is the brainchild of Sheriff Joe Arpaio who, reputedly, is America’s toughest sheriff. We know that because his own book is entitled “Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America’s Toughest Sheriff.” He has been elected five times since 1992 and, whatever else he is, he doesn’t suffer from any painful shyness.
It was he who introduced pink underwear for inmates of Maricopa County Jail and he followed that up with introducing pink handcuffs. His other innovative penal reforms include having prisoners live in canvas tents and work in 40 degree summer heat in chain gangs. And he is an equal opportunity law enforcer – women are treated the same way and it doesn’t faze him one bit that most of these inmates are actually still enjoying the presumption of innocence and are awaiting trial.
This intrepid officer’s service to law and order in the USA includes his investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate – and he is certain that it is a forgery. Gosh, I wish I could see the Briefing Paper Minister Dempsey gets from his Department.
And another really bright idea from the Sheriff for a cash-strapped Government – he now sells customised pink boxers emblazoned with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s logo and “Go Joe”.
Back in 1941, when German General Erwin Rommel had a largely Australian garrison surrounded in Tobruk, the British traitor dubbed Lord Haw Haw broadcast from Berlin that they were the “poor desert rats of Tobruk”
The Aussies proudly claimed that for themselves and to this day the last survivors are still proud to call themselves the Rats of Tobruk.
I suspect that any self-respecting bikies who didn’t get to wear pink, if that ever happens, would be the ones who were embarrassed – imagine the shame of knowing that the Government and prison authorities don’t think they are bad enough!