What are the Consorting Laws in Queensland?
According to a recent report by the LNP, only 27 bikies in Queensland have handed in their patches since the Labor government introduced its new organised crime laws in late 2016.
At that time, the Palaszczuk Government overhauled the state’s organised crime laws and made redundant much of the former government’s controversial bikie laws.
By way of summary, the legislation extended its powers of banning of outlaw motorcycle club members not just wearing their club colours in licensed premises, but all public places.
The legislation also replaced the anti-association provisions with a new offence, making it illegal for a person to consort with two or more convicted offenders if they have been previously warned by Queensland police not to do so.
This offence applies to adults, that is, people aged 18 years or over and does not apply to young people.
In relation to the definition of a “convicted offender”, the legislature deems that it is a person who has previously been convicted of an indictable offence, punishable by a maximum penalty of five or more years imprisonment. Alternatively, a “convicted offender” has been convicted of prescribed offences where the maximum penalty is under five years, in circumstances where they have been identified as being associated with organised crime.
The new consorting offence also allows Queensland Police to search a person they reasonably suspect has consorted, is consorting or is likely to consort with one or more recognised offenders.
Importantly, the consorting is not limited to a physical association. Accordingly, the laws are broad enough to encompass any kind of communication, in particular, phone, email or any type of social media. Furthermore, there isn’t a requirement that the consorting be linked to, or have any suspected link to, criminal activity in any way.
The Queensland laws draw heavily on the NSW consorting laws, that since their inception have had multiple reviews, namely one in 2014 and another in 2016. Both these reviews by the NSW Ombudsman found deficiencies in the way police were using the legislation.