SYDNEY – An Australian politician Monday dubbed activist group Anonymous “gutless cowards” after they warned Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to “expect us” over new laws aimed at biker gangs.
In a clip posted on YouTube by a masked person claiming to represent Anonymous Australia, Newman is singled out over the anti-gang legislation, which the speaker said could be used against anybody and was unconstitutional.
Motorcycle gangs linked to organized crime are an increasing problem across Australia and under the laws passed by Queensland state last month gang members could have an extra 15 years added to any prison sentence.
“Premier Campbell Newman has gone too far. It breaches our very human rights, liberties and our Australian constitution,” said the masked man in the video that has been viewed close to 170,000 times since it was posted Thursday.
“The creeping fascism has already begun and the bill is already being used against everyday people like you and me.
“Campbell Newman expect us.”
Queensland Police Minister Jack Dempsey said police were investigating the clip.
“Obviously they are just gutless cowards — they have to hide behind a mask,” he said.
“It is very disappointing, but obviously police will investigate the matter thoroughly.”
Newman’s office has not commented, but police are also reportedly investigating how the premier’s home address and he and his wife’s mobile phone numbers were circulated on social media over the weekend.
Reports said Newman and his wife received confrontational phone calls as a result.
“This breach of the premier’s privacy is concerning and regrettable,” a spokesman for Newman said Monday.
“It is particularly distasteful given it involves the premier’s family.
“But such appalling tactics will not dissuade the premier or the Newman government from the decisive action that is so vital to ensure the safety of all Queenslanders.”
Last month it was revealed that threats had been made against Queensland’s Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie since the laws were passed, but authorities have not elaborated on how these were conveyed.
Under Queensland’s new anti-biker laws, those found guilty also face incarceration in a bikers-only prison with no gym facilities or television access and having their motorcycles destroyed, while being banned from owning or working in tattoo shops.
But the legislation, which names motorcycle gangs the Bandidos, Hells Angels and Finks among 26 “criminal organizations,” has also been criticized by the Australian Council for Civil Liberties as “ludicrous and unjust.”
Experts say increased biker violence stems from turf wars over drug distribution, while the gangs are also allegedly involved in the distribution of firearms and explosives.