Baird: 'We'll get tougher on crime'
THE NSW Government's pledge to introduce UK-style serious crime prevention orders to fight bikie gang violence has been dismissed as "nothing more than talk" by Labor.
Premier Mike Baird announced a range of new laws to ban "would-be troublemakers" from attending places or events and increased police clout to confiscate criminals' assets.
Police would use the powers to prevent retaliatory attacks between bikie gangs, complementing existing consorting laws that restrict communication between convicted criminals.
"Police need powers to respond quickly and effectively to organised crime. This package delivers," Mr Baird said.
"We want to close the loopholes that serious criminals exploit to continue their criminal behaviour."
Lawbreakers who contravene the orders could face up to five years' jail.
Police Minister Stuart Ayres said penalties would also be increased for money laundering offences dealing with the proceeds of crime.
"Criminals who hide their money in assets like cars, jet-skis, homes - we are coming after you," he said.
"We are going to put the value of those proceeds into crime-fighting techniques and equipment and we are going to give that money back to people who have been victims of crime."
Legally obtained property used for a serious crime activity could also be confiscated under the changes.
"This package ensures organised criminals will get no respite in NSW," Mr Ayres said.
Labor's shadow minister for police Steve Whan said the Coalition announcement was an empty promise to drum up media coverage.
"Mike Baird's announcement today is nothing more than talk about tough laws, as the Liberals have failed to crack down on violence and shootings on Sydney's streets over the last four years," he said.
"Despite the NSW Parliament giving the government tough anti-gang laws two years ago, this government has failed to use the laws and declare a single criminal gang.
"The question is why is the government now talking about new laws when they haven't even used the current ones?
"The Liberals and Nationals should focus on getting guns off the streets and keeping guns out of criminals' hands, and not simply more empty rhetoric."
The 2012 anti-gang laws were upheld during a High Court challenge in October.
Mr Whan took issue with the government's boast that "all major categories of crime are either steady or falling for the first time since 1989".
"There have been 459 shootings under this government - with 34 people killed in that time," he said.
"Shootings have simply skyrocketed under the Liberals, and now with a few weeks until an election they talk about more new laws."
Law Society of NSW president John Eades had serious reservations about the laws, stressing that any such orders should only be issued by a court.
According to the scant information the government has so far released, police would have to apply to the Supreme or District courts to make the orders.
"While the government states that the laws are aimed at the 'kingpins', the laws are likely to have a wide application and impact on other members of the community and their rights," Mr Eades said.
"Whilst we strongly support the work of the police in combating organised crime, the Law Society believes the NSW police force already has wide-ranging powers to do so."
"There is a serious risk that this legislation will have unintended impacts similar to those experienced with the anti-bikie legislation."
Mr Eades said the Law Society would like to be involved in consultation with other key stakeholder groups before any legislation was introduced.