VLAD laws unfairly target 'working class' says expert
AS Queensland's controversial "bikie" laws are set to be reviewed by a commission of inquiry later this year, our four-part special report looks into the impacts of the legislation since its introduction in 2013.
This final instalment considers the social impacts of the government's anti-bikie laws.
UNION groups and some academics believe the bikie laws have a bigger impact on the working class, who could be "guilty by association" of being union members alongside bikies.
Eugene Schofield-Georgeson, a lawyer and PhD candidate at Macquarie University, echoed union concerns about the "anti-democratic intervention against Queensland people".
"The application of these laws has a disproportionately more draconian effect on working-class people who belong to unions, some of whom are also members of motorcycle clubs," Schofield-Georgeson said.
"Put simply, if you're a member of the same union as someone who is a bikie, you risk losing your job and your trade."
Mr Schofield-Georgeson said the unions had actively supported legal battles and engaged with the public, but the anti-gang laws still posed threats for non-bikie union members.
"As these unions point out, the kind of 'guilt by association' created by the VLAD Act may have wider implications for statutory 'good character' requirements in respect to renewing and retaining industry licenses and qualifications," he said.
"While the criterion required to satisfy a conviction for an 'association' offence under Act is more complex than what the unions have claimed, there is nevertheless a significant risk that unionised workers could find themselves facing criminal charges for their status as union members.
"Clearly, such legislation interferes with the freedom of workers to unionise."
The Liberal National Party of Queensland was approached for comment and did not respond to the claims.
Bikie Laws - The Fallout is a collaboration between Australian Regional Media and students of Bond University.