The bikie gang capital: Government holds out on anti-consorting laws

Ian Bushnell 25 July 2018 19

A man lies unconscious during the bikie brawl at the Capital Men’s Club last August. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Government will have blood on its hands if it does not bring in anti-consorting laws and criminal control measures to stamp out the bikie gang wars in Canberra, according to shadow attorney-general Jeremy Hanson.

The Canberra Liberals are ramping up pressure on the ACT Government to revisit Mr Hanson’s proposed measures to control bikie gangs in the Territory in the wake of more suburban shootings, street confrontations and the recent court airing of shocking footage showing a vicious brawl involving the Comanchero Outlaw Motorcycle Club.

Last year, the Labor Party and the Greens voted down Mr Hanson’s Bill, which was drafted in consultation with the Human Rights Commissioner to allay concerns that other groups could be targeted. The Government cited human rights concerns, their ineffectiveness interstate and responded with their own laws including a new offence for drive-by shootings, wider crime scene powers, firearm bans and strengthened ability to seize criminal assets.

Since then, there have been more shootings in Ngunnawal and Calwell where innocent bystanders were lucky not to have been injured or killed, warring bikies have been involved in a daylight fracas in the Tuggeranong Town Centre, and the first of six Comancheros appeared before the courts over the brawl last year at a Fyshwick strip club has been jailed.

CCTV footage from the Capital Men’s Club showed dozens of men brawling as staff looked on helplessly. One man can be seen being kicked and punched while lying unconscious on the floor while others are set upon.

Paea Talakai (pictured), the tall shirtless figure in the footage, was jailed for nine months, with five of those months to be served full time. He will be eligible for release from the Alexander Maconochie Centre in December.

About 100 members of the Comancheros from across the country had been in the capital last August for the gang’s 2017 memorial run.

Mr Hanson said the run would not have been allowed and the gathering would not even have taken place under anti-consorting laws, something Chief Police Officer Justine Saunders has also said.

“Police would be able to prevent the members of those gangs from congregating and mixing with each other. So it really then stops those groups from operating as organised criminal gangs,” he said.

Ms Saunders has gone public in support of anti-consorting laws but last week seemed resigned to the fact that the Government was not for changing on the matter.

“The Government has made it very clear to me that pursuing anti-consorting is not on the agenda for the Government for the moment,” she told ABC, while insisting that police had the tools to deal with the OMCG threat, including focusing on the seizure of criminal assets.

But Mr Hanson said without adding anti-consorting laws to that suite of tools, police could not be proactive and would be responding to, rather than preventing, criminal activity.

“They can respond to the threat but in a limited way, because their hands are tied behind their backs,” he said.

Mr Hanson said the predictions of what would happen if the ACT did not follow NSW and Victoria in introducing measures to control bikie gangs had come true with four gangs now operating in the ACT, and open warfare on the city’s streets.

The ACT now is home to the Rebels, a divided Comancheros chapter, the Nomads and the latest being the Finks, a situation Ms Saunders has admitted keeps her awake at night.

The concern, she said, was the sheer randomness of the violence, that it could break out ‘anywhere and any time’.

A still from CCTV shows two suspected OMCG members who were involved in the recent Tuggeranong fracas. Photo: ACT Policing.

Mr Hanson said the situation was very alarming.

“We have an open war between bikie gangs in the ACT , and it is a matter of time before an innocent bystander is very seriously injured or killed,” he said.

“In one of the recent shootings the bullet missed a neighbour by about a metre. It’s only by luck that someone hasn’t been killed. Without anti-consorting laws, this war will continue and if a war continues it is only a matter of time before someone gets killed.”

While no law was perfect, Mr Hanson said anti-consorting laws would disrupt and prevent criminal activity by making it illegal for them to mix or associate together, or for example have a clubhouse, as well as preventing members from working in certain trades which were known to be bikie dominated such as tattooing and security businesses, where there is access to firearms and where they can get involved in standover activities.

Mr Hanson said his Bill was human rights-compliant and specifically targeted the outlaw gangs. He had no wish to see these laws being used against people other than organised crime groups and the laws could be subject to review by the Assembly and the Human Rights Commission.

“Why is it that the Labor Party refuses to do that? What is it within the Labor party and who is it within the Labor Party that doesn’t want that to occur?” he said.

“I cannot understand because the community safety is at risk. There is no doubt about that. We’ve got open warfare occurring now and it is gutless and irresponsible for the Labor Party not to bring these laws in. It is disgraceful and when someone is killed, the blood will be on their hands and they will have to look the victim’s family in the eye and explain why they didn’t bring in laws that could have prevented their loved one from being killed or seriously hurt.”

Both the Government and the Greens told The RiotACT that anti-consorting laws had proven ineffective in other states and had impacted on other groups besides bikie gangs, although Mr Hanson said the Government was muddying the waters and comparing apples with oranges.

“The NSW Ombudsman issued a separate report on anti-consorting laws highlighting that in NSW, these laws are used against other minority groups in the community, such as Indigenous groups and homeless people. This is not an outcome the Government is willing to risk,” a Government spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the Government had delivered practical, effective tools to police and would continue to work to keep Canberra safe in ways that also respect its human rights framework.

It had also boosted Taskforce Nemesis, including funding in the most recent ACT Budget to strengthen surveillance and deterrence capacities, including the addition of another forensic accountant.

“To date, Taskforce Nemesis has charged 264 people, laid a total of 748 charges and executed 201 search warrants,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, another five alleged Comanchero bikies are expected to appear before the court next month over the strip club brawl.

Should the ACT Government bring in tighter measures to control outlaw motorcycle gangs? Let us know by commenting below.

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19 Responses to The bikie gang capital: Government holds out on anti-consorting laws
law404 law404 8:05 pm 05 Nov 19

Why let them in the club in the first place ?
They should’ve called the police before they even entered.
Clubs such as mooseheads etc never let bikers with coulours in the club . They should follow there example

Blen_Carmichael Blen_Carmichael 9:37 am 30 Jul 18

And the reason the gangs are coming to the ACT is that these anti-consorting laws in other state don’t work I take it?

bigred bigred 12:22 pm 29 Jul 18

The still from CCTV shows an illegally parked ute with two people standing near it. I assume a parking infringement notice was issued.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:45 pm 28 Jul 18

To be serious, the police need be proactive. As NSW Police officer Clive Small suggests, there is no use in turning up after it has happened.

An innocent bystander was killed in the Milperra Massacre and just like the tribal conflicts that have continued in Europe and the Middle East for the past 2000 years, lethal clashes between bikie gangs in Australia are destined to happen again.

Lets make sure it doesn’t happen in Canberra.

John Moulis John Moulis 3:44 pm 27 Jul 18

I’ve asked a few local Liberal pollies these questions and am yet to receive a satisfactory answer.

There are members of the Rebels and Finks at the gyms where I train and I say hello to them when they come in. They work out on benches next to me and use the same change room I do. Another one wears a Rebels volunteer t-shirt.

Am I falling foul of the anti-consorting laws if and when they are introduced? Am I “an associate of the Rebels and Finks”?

Surely questions like these need to be answered satisfactorally before we consider any attempt to legislate ourselves out of this supposed problem.

Daffydd T Blaidd Daffydd T Blaidd 1:48 pm 26 Jul 18

there are already laws in place for all this kind of criminality. Adding new ones diminishes the rights of others who are not.

Geoffrey John Randal Geoffrey John Randal 7:08 am 26 Jul 18

This criminal behaviour does not demand new laws

Beth Mansfield Beth Mansfield 11:42 pm 25 Jul 18

It's really important that association laws not be introduced. If someone breaks the law, then you arrest them for breaking the law. You do not make up new reasons to arrest them. And history tells us really plainly and in excruciating detail where association laws end up. Curb bikie violence, without infringing on basic rights.

    Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 5:51 am 26 Jul 18

    Put up rbt near club houses make it difficult, Rudi Guiliani cleaned up New York that way

Mark Neal Mark Neal 10:55 pm 25 Jul 18

So, they plan to create laws to make unlawful some things that are not currently offences, to reduce the occurrence of things that are already unlawful. Because laws are apparently already so effective.

Peter Major Peter Major 8:37 pm 25 Jul 18

We do not need any new control legislation. Legalise Drugs, collect all the revenue and bankrupt the criminals. Bikies will go back to being obscure fringe elements and the need for turf wars would abate.

gooterz gooterz 8:34 pm 25 Jul 18

Bikie gangs down south druve up the price of houses in inner north.

Hardly ever see the speed camera vans in the south either.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:25 pm 27 Jul 18

    The real reason they like Tuggers is the streets are wider down here.

    With all the narrow streets in Gungers it would be difficult to do a “drive-by” safely without hitting a parked car.

Jamian Valence Jamian Valence 7:23 pm 25 Jul 18

They’re punching on with each other. No non bikes were harmed in this incident.

David Brown David Brown 7:06 pm 25 Jul 18

If we moved police from collecting Going Fast Tax to catching criminals or preventing crime we would be much better off.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 5:09 pm 25 Jul 18

So a Government representative says they “had delivered practical, effective tools to police and would continue to work to keep Canberra safe”.

What planet is this person on? I’d hate to know what they think Keeping Safe means.

We have a huge increase in Bikie related issues, shootings, fights and violence.

We have innocent members of the public getting dragged into the troubles.

We have clearly more bikies roaming around Tuggeranong with interstate number plates.

We have the people wanted for the fight in Tuggeranong in the picture above standing next to a NSW plated Ute. The motorcycle gangs of interstate are using Canberra as a safe meeting place and hub for their activities.

Andrew Barr and Shane Rattenbury don’t care because they and their Inner North voters aren’t being affected. I’ve seen police charge a bloke for having a too loud motorcycle in Lonsdale st, but ignore a Bikie Gang member flying along the footpath at Homeworld centre.

It’s time for the ACT Government to improve the worsening situation.

Grail Grail 2:41 pm 25 Jul 18

What crimes committed in Canberra would have been prevented if we had anti-consorting laws?

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:31 pm 25 Jul 18

    Ummm what crimes would have been prevented. Ummmmm what about the crime that’s just been through the courts at the strip club and mentioned in the story above that you obviously didn’t read properly. The one where the Bikies all met up for a conference, but wouldn’t have been able to under the proposed laws.

    But seriously, I don’t know if they are the right laws or not. Surely there’s some laws that can be implemented to target Bikie Gangs not everyday citizens.

    What I do know is My elderly father has had a terrible time with the Bikies in Calwell. The Neighbours are all too scared to raise a fuss or complain to police.

    But no one in the government seems to care about my fathers human rights to live a safe and peaceful life in outer suburban canberra.

    I want people on the Riotact to be totally honest with themselves for a moment. If Bikie shootings and hooning were happening in your own street wouldn’t you want something done about it? People in inner Canberra kick up a huge stink when planning laws aren’t followed in their street. But seem happy to let bullets fly in someone else’s neighbourhood.

    g210 g210 1:22 pm 26 Jul 18

    Rights of bikie gangs are important and must be protected at all costs.
    Just ask any member of our wonderfully caring local government.

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