With typical humour, Hells Angel Terry McCormick jokes with media about having no time to do his hair as he is led away in handcuffs. His alleged crime stems from riding in a Poker Run organised by his club, the Brisbane chapter of the Hells Angels.
Such events are common all around the world and combine motorcycling with the popular card game. Those with the best hands at the end of the day win prizes.
Under Queensland's so called 'anti bikie' laws, the right to publicly associate has been curtailed. Given these laws are based on faulty logic (see here) it won't be a surprise that I am concerned by the arrests, but for more than just the obvious reasons.
Terry has been public in speaking out against the laws. His arrest, then, will work to threaten free speech and peaceful political dissent. All for the sake of a Poker Run.
When I was researching the Queensland laws I got to know Terry. I liked him. He's got a hint of Aussie larrikinism, but he's a solid bloke and great company. Do I think he's exempt from the law? No, of course not. If he commits a crime he should be prosecuted. But these laws are ill conceived and dangerous. As a friend, I wish him well.
As an academic, I hope Terry's prosecution acts as a test case by which the High Court will strike these laws from the books (the previous attempt to do so was strangled by a technicality). Regardless of what you think of groups like the Hells Angels, laws like those in Queensland have no place in free and democratic societies. That being so, they should concern us all.