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Qld anti-gang bill lacking key support

AAP logoAAP 14/09/2016 Jamie McKinnell

The fate of Queensland's proposed anti-gang legislation is unclear after the opposition remained coy on its final position.

Labor's bill, introduced into the hung parliament on Tuesday, will replace major elements of the LNP's 2013 Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Act.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Wednesday pressured the opposition to declare its hand after Liberal National Party leader Tim Nicholls criticised the plan in the lead-up to its introduction by questioning whether any changes were needed.

"I believe that we as a government have got these laws right," she said.

"Now the real test is for Tim Nicholls and the LNP, whether they will support these tough new measures that tackle all organised crime, not just outlaw motorcycle gangs."

If the LNP votes against the changes, the Palaszczuk government will need to rely on crossbench support for them to pass.

The bill's fate in that scenario appears sketchy.

Key independents Rob Pyne and Peter Wellington flagged concerns over civil liberties and the right to associate, while the two Katter's Australian Party MPs have reserved their opinions.

Mr Nicholls said the response to Labor's plan had been "underwhelming", but wouldn't yet signal how the LNP will vote.

"We're still going through all the detail of the VLAD laws but our view is the laws were working and they ought not to have been changed," he said.

The party was still reviewing the document's 441 pages, he said.

"I think the thing that hasn't yet been satisfactorily answered for Queenslanders is why the need for the changes anyway."

Mr Nicholls said he was "very, very concerned" about the winding back of police powers to stop, search and detain suspects, along with the scrapping of measures that gave rise for a presumption against bail for alleged bikies.

Labor's proposed legislation, which was informed by a 400-page review spearheaded by Supreme Court Justice Alan Wilson, was endorsed by Police Commissioner Ian Stewart as "the strongest in Australia".

But Superintendent Mick Niland, who heads the specialist Task Force Maxima, declined to comment on the proposed changes other than to say police would work with whatever legislation they had.

He lamented the "generally reprehensible" behaviour of gang members.

"They're involved in drug trafficking, they're involved in extortion," Supt Niland said.

"They have disrupted and caused so much angst in the community nationally, they are a high priority for law enforcement across this country."

Labor's Serious and Organised Crime Amendment Bill will now be considered by a parliamentary committee.

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