Queensland: Sunshine State or Scary State?

Guy FawkesAs regular readers will know from one of my earlier posts, we don’t celebrate bonfire night here in Australia, and I’m sure we are not the only country that doesn’t celebrate it either. But it seems that Guy Fawkes might also be remembered perhaps for something different; Remember Remember the Fifth of November may soon come to be related to the…

Million Mask March

Apparently demonstrations were held in something like 400 cities around the world to protest against, well, just about anything. We had one here in Brisbane; for us though, we seem to have something more specific concerning us.

The Queensland Government’s new laws

Just lately me and Mrs Bobinoz have been watching Queensland’s Seven News with our mouths in that half open aghast kind of position; I think it’s commonly referred to as “jawdropping”.

We haven’t really believed what we’ve been hearing.

The only time our mouths moved from this jawdropping position was to say things to each other like “He can’t do that, can he?

Apparently he can, and so far he has, after all the man behind this is the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman whose nickname when he was mayor of Brisbane was ‘Can Do Newman’.

It all started, apparently, with a bit of a punch-up in a restaurant in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast towards the end of September. It involved a couple of bikie gangs and has led to a government crackdown and the pushing through in Parliament of some new laws.

Now, I’m all for law and order and doing anything we can to make the streets of Queensland and all of Australia as safe as possible. I also try to stay away from politics as much as I can on this website, although as politics affect our daily lives, that’s not always possible to do.

After all, this website is all about what it’s really like to live in Australia.

So certain topics like the climate change rip-off and ultimately the carbon tax along with things like coal seam gas and how it affects the lives of ordinary people here are hard to avoid.

Living in a democratic society, there are other values which I hold dear and almost take for granted, in particular innocent until proven guilty and freedom of speech and association.

Fast forward about five weeks from that Gold Coast punch-up and this video appears on YouTube…

Unfortunately, the video, which had been posted by the ‘Anonymous’, group has now been removed. My apologies.

Some have interpreted the ending “expect us” as a direct threat to Campbell Newman. Because of that, the guy who made this video was arrested by police but “expect us” is, apparently, their motto. He was later released without charge.

I should think so too, he is only exercising his right to free speech and let’s face it, it is hard to disagree with anything Mr Scary Mask Man has to say.

If you want to read the document yourself just to check that what Mr Scary Mask Man has told you is in fact what it says, you can view it all instantly by clicking the link below…

I have read this document and, to be sure, have also searched it for the words “bikie”, “bike” and “gang” but none of those words exist within this Bill. But I did see the words “corporation”, “unincorporated association”, “club”, “league”, or “any other group of three or more persons by whatever name called, whether associated formally or informally and whether the group is legal or illegal.”

So, although the media constantly talk about “anti bikie laws” it’s difficult to see how these laws are specifically about bikies, they can just as easily be about book clubs with more than three members.

If I were a member of a book club and one of the other members was a bank robber, then by association I could be could be found guilty of committing an offence and jailed for a minimum of six months.

Better cancel my book club membership then.

I’m not the only one who thinks these new laws are outrageous, see:

Yes, it is a big concern. For that reason, I nominate Campbell Newman and his government as Australian bad things. It’s partly my fault, I helped vote them in, but I was kind of hoping they would relax the swimming pool fence laws which are overly ridiculous. After all, they said in their pre-election promises that they were looking to cut as much red tape as possible in this nanny state.

Instead I have to be careful who I share my swimming pool with, otherwise, by association, I could end up in jail. Queensland has been known as the “Sunshine State” and the “Smart State” in the past, soon it may be known as the “Scary State”.

I’m so angry about this, I could buy a bike.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • lynda January 24, 2014, 9:58 pm |

    hi Bob
    thanks for your update to my mail. still I have to ask this. is Australia better than Canada? am coming over to study at Australia soon but this snakes and death am must say am now scared that I might cancel my admission. please can give something to make see Australia better than Canada in terms of schools and job.

    • BobinOz January 28, 2014, 2:57 pm |

      Not really Lynda, I know nothing about Canada at all. Oh, other than they have large scary grizzly bears 🙂 but (probably) no snakes.

  • Nic December 14, 2013, 11:41 am |

    It is all pretty scary but maybe none too surprising when you consider the political history of QLD (Joh & co.)
    Perhaps you didn’t consult your Australian dictionary for the meaning of “Liberal” before you put your X in the box?
    Spot on about Oz/France …..don’t get me started on unpasteurized cheese and parallel parking!

    • BobinOz December 16, 2013, 2:31 pm |

      Well, I knew Australian liberalism was right wing, just didn’t think it would be this far right 🙂

  • Valter Russo November 7, 2013, 8:18 am |

    Hi Bob, what’s up

    i recall in Portugal, during the time of Salazar dictatorship, was forbidden to be in groups of 3 or more people, it was called ”ajuntamentos” or in English gatherings. but the difference was, as you read, we were a dictatorship, we were for 41 years.
    this are the first 2 lines of the Australian anthem :
    “Australians all let us rejoice,
    For we are young and free”
    I guess Mr. Newman forgot that last word, hein…
    I also believe that my freedom end’s where the other person freedom starts, but that is what we call in Portugal, the American move, try to pass the law to control everyone saying its just for a few. when you realize it, you’re deep in the web of a dictatorship.

    Valter Russo

    • Valter Russo November 7, 2013, 8:21 am |

      sorry about the spam

      if that was a real concern why did not the northern territory guys thought about it with all those broken jaws?
      i guess Mr.Newman have some card holding up his sleeve.

      • BobinOz November 7, 2013, 1:45 pm |

        What spam? Did you get a message when posting a comment?

        Anyway, things aren’t that bad here yet. We can gather in groups of more than three as long as that group isn’t considering committing a crime. If they are though, no matter how petty that crime might be, the whole group could be sentenced to a mandatory 15 year term in prison.

        Ah, you read the jaw breaking post about Darwin 🙂

  • Jeff November 6, 2013, 9:42 pm |

    Hi Bob,
    In your post you mentioned that the masked man in the video was only exercising his right to free speech. The problem with the defence, though, is that there is no right to free speech in Australia. There is a right to freedom of political discourse, but that’s it. Unlike Canada (where I’m from) and perhaps the UK (not sure), Aussies do not have a constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech.

    • BobinOz November 7, 2013, 12:00 am |

      Hi Jeff

      Well, that’s not what I read in the brochures before moving here 🙂

      I know the law can be a complicated matter and I think you may technically be right in as much as it may not be written into our constitution, but if you Google “five fundamental freedoms in Australia” you will see that the Australian Government put freedom of speech on top of that list.

      Second is freedom of association and third is freedom of assembly. These laws in Queensland seem to break all three.

      So, even if it is not in our constitution, it is touted by our government as something the citizens of Australia can expect in this country. On that basis, it would be nice to have those little perks here in Queensland.

      Cheers, Bob

      • Jeff Eisen November 7, 2013, 8:53 am |

        I think you’re right – it’s a semantic issue. The principle of free speech is present, but it’s not as explicit in Australia as it is in the US or Canada.

        See http://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/4529/do-we-have-the-right-to-freedom-of-speech-in-austr.aspx

        As an aside, I moved to Australia (Adelaide) from Canada about 13 months ago. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself here and am somewhat ambivalently returning home in 6 months. As much as Canada and Australia have some overlapping history and commonalities, there is definitely a difference in attitude between the two countries (as should be expected). One of the differences I have noticed most prominently is the willingness of Australians (at least the ones in my sample) to tolerate the nanny-state and be subject to what feels to me like excessive degrees of central control, whether by government, city council, sports association, or any other authority. I am heartened to see that people are able to recognize a line in the sand where maybe central control is going too far.

        • BobinOz November 7, 2013, 1:38 pm |

          Interesting observation Jeff and you may have a point. There are certainly more nanny state type rules and regulations here than I was used to in the UK and maybe it’s the Australians laid-back nature that allows them to accept these rules.

          It’s funny how different nations are; the French, for example, are probably the exact opposite to Aussies, they tend to simply ignore rules or if one comes out they don’t like, they start burning stuff on the motorway.

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