States under pressure on national anti-gang laws

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, with ministers Tony Burke, Jason Clare, Mark Dreyfus and Daryl Melham at the announcement of national anti-gang laws. Photo: Andrew MearesFamiliar handbook as PM plays to the crowd

The states will be asked to consider national anti-gang laws at a meeting next month, which would give the federal government unprecedented powers to tackle organised crime.

The new national laws would give courts the power to declare that a particular group is a ”criminal organisation”. Police would then be allowed to impose controls on gangs, such as preventing club members from visiting clubhouses or holding liquor and weapons licences.

Tackling organised crime is primarily a state government responsibility, but Ms Gillard said she would ask state premiers at next month’s Council of Australian Governments meeting to refer their powers to the Commonwealth.

”National laws will prevent members of organised criminal groups from easily shifting their operations to other states and territories,” Ms Gillard said in a statement.

”Organised criminals move from state to state. They also have assets in different states and overseas.”

Under the new laws, police in all states would have the same powers to seize ”unexplained wealth”, including cash, cars and houses, from criminals.

”Most criminals are more afraid of losing their money that going to jail,” Ms Gillard said.

The Prime Minister will also ask state premiers to support reforms to the guns market that Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare lobbied for last year.

Ms Gillard will ask the premiers to agree to set up an Australian Ballistic Identification network and to copy South Australian laws that give police more ”stop and search” powers to target criminals who are banned from carrying or owning guns.

Talk of crushing gangs and imposing stricter law and order has been constant during Ms Gillard’s five-day campaign in western Sydney – a region riddled by drive-by shootings during the past year. In Victoria, police are concerned a feud between two big bikie gangs will explode into a war, with the risk the general public could be caught up in any violent clashes.

Ms Gillard made her national anti-gang law announcement in Punchbowl flanked by western Sydney MPs Jason Clare and Daryl Melham.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced a $64 million ”national anti-gang taskforce”, comprising as many as 70 members from the Australian Federal Police and state polices forces, together with officers from the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Immigration and the Australian Tax Office.

This is not the first time the Gillard government has tried to persude the states to hand over their powers to fight organised crime.

”Last year I got all the attorneys-general across the country and asked them for this power to create national anti-gang laws,” Home Affairs Minister Mr Clare told ABC radio on Wednesday.

”They rejected that proposal. I think that was a mistake and I said at the time, ‘We need this and I would prosecute the case for it again’.”

Asked why Labor believed they could succeed now given its past failure to convince the states, Mr Clare said: ”Well I’m hopeful. The NSW Premier has made the point that he thinks this is a national issue and that they need to work together to create national laws.”

Mr Clare hopes that by ”taking this to the next level” through a direct plea from the Prime Minister to the premiers, ”we’ll get a breakthrough”.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Published in: 杭州楼凤

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