GOLD Coast Finks bikies have hired one of Australia’s top constitutional barristers for a High Court battle against a Queensland police bid to have them outlawed.
The Finks have retained Bret Walker SC, a $12,000-a-day Sydney silk who led a successful High Court challenge to similar anti-bikie laws in South Australia.
Mr Walker, who also represented tobacco companies in their fight against the Gillard Government’s plain packaging legislation, is being briefed by high-profile Gold Coast criminal lawyer Bill Potts, a long-time Finks representative.
Mr Potts yesterday lodged a High Court application seeking to have Queensland’s Criminal Organisation Act declared unconstitutional.
The move came almost two months after police used the 2009 law for the first time in a Supreme Court bid to have the Finks’ Gold Coast chapter and an associated company declared a criminal organisation.
Police Assistant Commissioner Mike Condon alleged the Finks had been involved in crimes including murder, extortion, robbery and drug trafficking and posed “a great risk to the community”.
Affidavits lodged with the Supreme Court in June alleged 45 Finks members had criminal convictions and that the gang included a so-called “Terror Team” whose “major function . . . is the extortion of money by a system known as “Finks Fines”.
Mr Potts said the Finks contended the Criminal Organisation Act was “invalid and unconstitutional’ because it denied them the right to challenge the case against them in the Supreme Court, including criminal intelligence.
“We’re not attacking the police or the Supreme Court. We’re simply saying the legislation is fundamentally flawed,” Mr Potts said outside the High Court registry.
“It is legislation which has far-reaching and enormously intrusive powers to effectively declare that fathers, sons, brothers and friends cannot associate and that if they do, they are criminals,” he said.
“There is no recourse for them to test the evidence against them or to even be legally represented in court.”
A backlog of cases means the High Court may not hear the Finks application until late this year or early next year.