Smokescreen (updated)

Brsbane has had its second CBD lockdown in a week with another false alarm prompted by the fear that outlaw bikies will launch a terrorist bombing campaign against the forces of law and order. We’re already on the verge of a constitutional crisis as Newman intervenes directly in court cases, claiming a mandate from the masses, and running smear campaigns against judges who defy him.

What is going on here? The actual threat to society represented by bikie gangs (a few public brawls[1] and some low-level drug dealing and protection rackets) isn’t remotely commensurate with this response.

I suspect that the answer is to be found in the fight between Newman and Tony Fitzgerald and, in particular, Newman’s suggestion that bikie crime is worse than the corruption exposed by the Fitzgerald inquiry. Of course, that corruption didn’t involve bikies, or any kind of outlaw gang – it was run from the top, by senior National Party ministers, and the corrupt police they promoted. Its exposure left the conservative parties in the wilderness for nearly 20 years.

Clearly, Newman and the LNP have forgotten none of this. Almost their first act on taking office was to nobble the Crime and Misconduct Commission that arose from the Fitzgerald report. Pretty clearly, Newman and Seeney don’t intend their government to share the fate of Bjelke-Petersen and Hinze. Equally clearly, they intend to reward themselves and their mates as liberally as possible at the public expense. For a government that’s only half way through its first term they’ve already accumulated a track record of nepotism and cronyism that would be impressive after a decade or more in office. It’s obvious that, sooner or later, something big will blow up with the CMC, criminal charges and so on. That is, of course, unless the CMC can be neutralised and the judiciary reduced the position of tame compliance we saw in the Joh era.

A politician who preaches law and order is almost certainly picking your pockets as he does so. That certainly looks to be the case in Queensland.

Update The evening after this was posted, there were calls for the Acting head of the CMC, Ken Levy, to resign because he had written an opinion piece endorsing the Newman government’s policy. It turns out that he’s a former director-general of the Department of Justice forced out by Labor because of the fiasco over the disgraceful prosecution of Pauline Hanson. That led me to the discovery that Newman’s review of the CMC was conducted by Ian Callinan, who has ethical issues of his own. Readers can judge whether Levy’s leadership is such as to inspire their confidence.End update

fn1. The most serious case was when where a fight in a shopping centre resulted in a bystander receiving gunshot wounds. But that didn’t require new laws. One participant was convicted of affray, while the other (the alleged shooter) is in jail awaiting trial.

13 thoughts on “Smokescreen (updated)

  1. I don’t know enough about the goings on in the sunshine state to say anything about nepotism, cronyism etc.

    I distinctly remember the mid-eighties, listening to the radio, driving through Queensland.
    The news was all about people practically tearing open the doors to the Bjelke-Petersen era state police. Have people just forgotten all of that stuff?

    Down here in Victoria, I caught a mention on the news about the Napthine government regarding “bikie” laws, and I recall similar stuff going on in NSW and SA.

    Is it just me having a bit of a “Pastor Niemöller” moment here?
    (And honestly, not trying to Godwin the thread)

    There’s a federal government website ( that outlines the “Five fundamental freedoms” we enjoy; two of them are “Freedom of association” and “Freedom of assembly”.

    The loophole here is, of course, that your association must be legal as must your purpose for assembling. Oops. What an opportunity for an enterprising politician.

  2. Very good! Exhibits I think a healthy scepticism of motivations, and willingness to follow the money not the spin. I say this because …

  3. …if Newman is successful with bikie gangs, next target could be university depts with nosey academics that get in their business. Anti-errorism laws, they’ll call it, as they target those who speak against the power mongers. They’ll even make special super-gaols for locking up those egregious lil’ muck rakers and dissenters…

    Then there’ll be new laws against virtual assembly, assembly language, and other computer crimes. Long live tyranny!

  4. And I have no doubt that it won’t be long before any trade union which organises a strike will become a proscribed association.

  5. With the honourable exception of Terje, the self-styled libertarian crowd appears to be curiously ambivalent about Newman’s outrageous attack on freedom of association. Over at Catallaxy, the Currency Lad ‘reluctantly’ takes Newman’s side in his stoush with the judiciary apparently because judges and the ABC are a bigger threat to our liberties than tyrannical laws imposed by governments. An interesting perspective.

    Meanwhile, other Catallaxians believe that the real culprits are in fact Islamists.

    I’d be grateful to anyone who could explain the logic of all this to me: I’m really struggling. 😉

  6. Tim – thanks. However Catallaxy does not speak for libertarians in any general seance. If you follow social media sites on Facebook such as the pages or groups for “Australian Libertarian Society” or the “Liberal Democratic Party” you will see that the bikie laws are a hot topic and vocal opposition to these laws is near unanimous.

    The QLD President of the Liberal Democratic Party is active in organising the Dec 1 protest rally:-

  7. However Catallaxy does not speak for libertarians in any general seance.

    I didn’t realise Catallaxy was a spiritualist organisation. Wonders will never cease. 😉

  8. Queensland is as Queensland does.

    still, sandgroper territory can’t talk.

    we have a member of a prominent political family subdivide a largish amount of land in a non metro area and then pursuade the council to ban further subdivisions in the district for five years.

    that’s with the current row over the council amalamation the current lib govt were voted in to “not” bring about.

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