Bikie gang members can avoid the extraordinary jail terms threatened by new laws in Queensland if they turn informer.
The laws being rushed through state parliament will hand bikies engaging in serious criminal activity such as murder or dangerous drug possession an extra 15 years of mandatory jail time.
The penalties for bikie gang office bearers are even harsher: an extra 25 years on top of their initial sentence.
And those sentences could be served in a special maximum security jail which the government has proposed to specifically house the state’s worst bikie criminals.
But in what Premier Campbell Newman says will be an effective way to gather intelligence, jail time will be waived if an offender gives authorities information about bikie gangs and their criminal activities.
“The only way they can get off those additional mandatory penalties is essentially to provide information that’s of use to the police to help bring down the gang,” Mr Newman said.
The government was also seeking royal assent to list all bikie gangs as criminal organisations, including the Finks, the Rebels, the Bandidos and the Hells Angels.
If a new gang is created, the government can add them to the list based on police evidence.
Mandatory prison sentences, laws banning bikies from owning, operating and working in tattoo parlours and hefty jail terms for assaulting police are the first anti-bikie laws the Newman government are expected to pass in parliament on Tuesday night.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said it would be up to jurors to determine whether an offender was a member of a criminal gang, or a “vicious lawless associate.”
“Where you may currently under law face a five-year sentence (for grievous bodily harm), it can potentially be a 25 to 30-year sentence (for gang members),” he told reporters.
“This is where the deterrent kicks in.”
Mr Newman said severe penalties would also apply to three or more gang members caught gathering together.
“We are going to make every effort to completely destroy these gangs. We are not joking,” Mr Newman said.
The premier admitted gangs were well-resourced and he expected legal challenges in the High Court, but said the government had been very careful and the Solicitor General heavily involved in drafting the laws.
Criminologists and critics fear the government’s taking it too far.
Former Gold Coast detective Terry Goldsworthy says the proposed laws are unfair, and set a dangerous new precedent for double standards in Queensland.
He says there’s now one set of rules to deal with bikies who commit crimes, and another set for others who commit exactly the same offences.
Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman says the bikie jail wouldn’t work as there’s no evidence to back the government’s claim bikies are using their jail time to recruit members, peddle drugs and intimidate prison staff.
“If there is a problem, concentrating them in one area is bound to magnify the problem if there is indeed a problem,” Mr O’Gorman told AAP.
The state opposition said the laws should have been reviewed by a parliamentary committee before being put to parliament.