June 15, 2009 | Graham

Bikies and bikers

Cross posted from What the people want

Proposed and actual state government legislation to specifically criminalise
particular bikie gangs and membership of them provides an interesting insight
into the law and order debate.

The first table measures general concern about bikie gangs.

Percentage concerned about bikie gangs
  Greens Labor Liberal Total
Very concerned 1% 6% 16% 9%
Concerned 11% 22% 33% 25%
Neither concerned nor unconcerned 24% 28% 20% 24%
Unconcerned 31% 23% 19% 23%
Very unconcerned 32% 21% 12% 19%
Unsure 0% 1% 0% 0%
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
Total concerned 13% 27% 49% 34%
Total unconcerned 64% 44% 32% 42%
Net concerned -51% -17% 17% -8%

Concern tends to split along party lines, which is interesting as the
proponents of these measures are generally Labor governments. Overall, using a
sample where voting intentions have been normalised to mirror those in the
general community, there is "on-balance" lack of concern to the issue
of bikie gangs. With the figures for both "concerned" and "unconcerned" below
fifty percent and 24% in the middle, this is not a "barbeque stopper".

The table below shows that when considering legislation the overall
percentages don’t change much, but that the intensity of support for the
legislation is higher than concern about bikies would suggest. So, while
only16% of Liberal voters are "very concerned" about bikies, 27% "strongly
agree" with the legislation. The 11 percentage point difference appears to
be made-up from the ranks of those who are concerned, meaning 49% overall
support the legislation.


Percentage concerned about bikie legislation

  Greens Labor Liberal Total
Strongly agree 3% 13% 27% 17%
Agree 10% 17% 22% 18%
Neither agree nor disagree 10% 21% 19% 19%
Disagree 27% 23% 17% 21%
Strongly disagree 49% 24% 16% 24%
Unsure 0% 2% 0% 1%
Grand Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
Total agree 14% 29% 49% 35%
Total disagree 76% 47% 32% 45%
Net agree -63% -18% 16% -10%

What is shaping different attitudes on this issue?

There seems to be a fundamental split between those who take a utilitarian
approach and those who take an in principle stand.The utilitarian approach can
be summed up as "Bikies are a small part of crime, and their violence is mainly
directed at each other. They don’t directly affect me. This issue is a beat-up
by the media and politicians. Current laws are being used to prosecute them,
therefore what we have is working, and the problem is not so great that we need
to consider curtailing civil liberties." The in principle approach is "Bikies
call themselves ‘outlaws’ and commit crime. We must combat crime wherever we
can, and someone who consciously puts themselves outside the law does not
deserve the protection of it. The government should do whatever it must to bring
them into line, and as they are a fringe group any curtailment of civil
liberties will have little or no effect on me."

A common theme appears to be the low regard in which bikies are generally
held by both supporters and opponents which probably explains why this is not a
"hot" issue.

The Leximancer Map below graphically shows how the various attitudes mesh
(click on it for a full-size version).


Concepts associated with those who strongly agree with the legislation are "bikie",
"action" and "order". "Order" is "Law and Order". This is an uncompromising ,
take no prisoners approach – act now: special legislation against gangs for law
and order. Underlying it is an almost visceral dislike of bikie gangs.

Concepts associated with those who strongly disagree are "current" and
"rights". They believe that current laws are adequate and working, and they are
concerned about civil liberties. They believe this is a "knee-jerk" reaction.
The theme "criminal" is more or less common to all groups. It is concern about
the threat to "people" a belief that "it’s time" or a belief that "existing
laws" are good enough to "deal" with bikies.


"The media
highlights and exaggerates the reality and potential for criminal activity from
theses groups. A recent surge in charges against bikies shows that existing
policing policy and legislation is more than adequate. I am worried about the
broader civil libertarian aspects of the proposed moves to criminalize

gangs have been around for decades doing what they do. More people die jumping
from the Westgate bridge why is this not being attended to by the government."

gangs seem to be more of a threat to each other than to members of the public
who are not within their social sphere."

are criminals in bikie gangs and out of bikie gangs. I am a motorcyclist in some
riding clubs but am not in a criminal club. SO why punish me?"

activity just driven more undergound, same problems."

a furphy. White collar criminals damage our society much more intensely, more
pervasively, more insidiously."

is exaggerated. Im more concerned with drunk and agressive drivers and raod

a headline-grabber, nothing more. We already have criminal laws that are
entirely adequate; to see laws made to target a specific group makes me uneasy."

Bikie gangs have been a blight on society for ages and need to be cracked down

thugs & silly buggers with firearms need putting down"

think the bikies liberties are being violted also but find them very dangerous."

organised crime is of concern. Some bickie gangs need the attention that is
being given them but there are also other areas of organised crime that could do
with this attention. Beating up the bickies will not solve all the community law
and order problems."

a free land, misfits have freedom and abuse it. people who live off others by
the proceeds of crime deserve stiff penalties."

am not frightfully concerned but generally I don’t think we clearly define our
expectations of civilised behaviour and as our country gets bigger in terms of
population we really have to clearly set limits and parameters not just for
outlaw bikie gangs but in a whole lot of ways e.g. drinking and gambling
legislation etc."

people decribe themselves as ""outlaw"" motor cycle groups. Let them be treated
as such."

think law and order needs to be maintained across all demographics of society.
We do not want Australians living in fear for their safety."

believe much of the organised crime and drug distribution networks is
facilitated through bikie gangs and don’t understand why a group designated as
‘outlaw’ is able to exist at all, other than by soft justice and hamstrung law
enforcement authorities and other government bodies."

Posted by Graham at 5:27 pm | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

1 Comment

  1. There is an insidious side to this whereby Govts use their own ineptitude as an excuse to bring draconian laws that take away our liberties.
    The existing laws are adaquate to deal with criminals but legal disease,rights,the PC brigade and the Judiciary have diluted the rule of law and Govts strapped for cash do not want people in gaol too long @ $80,000.00 pa per person.
    We now have a situation in some communities whereby the criminals roam free while honest,hardworking people are gaoled by fear in their own houses.
    The fear of empty Govt coffers now punishes the honest and hard working with fines,taxes,and charges.These are the symptoms of serious decay.
    The bikie gangs are just a distraction.There are far bigger fish to fry,but no polly will dare prepare the pan.

    Comment by Arjay — June 15, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

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