First woman arrested under Qld 'anti-bikie laws'

Issue 

A 40-year-old library assistant, Sally Kuether, was arrested and charged on January 24 under Queensland’s controversial anti-bikie laws.

She has been charged under new laws that prohibit more than two alleged bikies from meeting in public.

The mother-of-three met her partner Phillip Palmer and friend Ronald Germain at the Dayboro Hotel, north-west of Brisbane, on December 19. The ABC said they were supposedly “wearing club colours” and were “alleged associates of the Life And Death motorcycle club”.

All three were held in custody until January 30, when a magistrate released Kuether and Germain on bail. Palmer’s hearing was deferred to February 6.

Detective Inspector Brendan Smith told the ABC that police had raided two properties and found “a number of illicit items”, including a snake, “some dangerous drugs, drug paraphernalia and criminal gang paraphernalia … and a flick knife”.

If convicted under the “anti-bikie laws”, they could be jailed for six months to three years in solitary confinement for being “associates” of a designated motorcycle club.

Kuether has no criminal history. Family members say she is not even a club member.

Debbie Kilroy from Sisters Inside told media Kuether had been “caught up in these draconian laws”.

Five hundred people have been charged under the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act (VLAD) since last September.

The law is ostensibly targeted at motorcycle clubs and several are named in the schedule to the act as criminal organisations. But the real intent of the law is becoming clearer.

The only type of organisation mentioned in the body of the act is trade unions. The government has indicated it could use the anti-association laws to cancel or not renew licences of tradesmen, such as plumbers and electricians, who are alleged to be members of proscribed motorcycle clubs.

This move could force electricians, plumbers and other tradies out of legitimate work, which opponents of the laws say would result in more turning to criminal activity to get by.

Recent allegations of corruption in construction unions in Victoria and New South Wales have been used by Queensland politicians to justify their laws.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie was “disturbed by the reports [of corruption]” but “not surprised”, the Brisbane Times said on January 28.

“This is exactly why the government implemented the reforms, in terms of licences [for the construction industry], that we did some months ago,” he said.

“It is because we want to make sure that industries in Queensland, [such as the] electrical industries, are free from criminal gangs.”

The Electrical Trades Union and other Queensland unions are seeking support to challenge the government’s laws in the High Court.

[The Queensland Civil Liberties Network is planning a rally on February 11 to coincide with the first day of Queensland Parliament this year. The rally will start at 5.30pm at King George Square and march to parliament house.]

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