Canberra’s four bikie gangs are not only causing altercations amongst themselves but also between political parties in the ACT Legislative Assembly as the ACT’s anti-consorting laws debate rages.
Canberra Liberals member Jeremy Hanson introduced new anti-consorting legislation to the Assembly today that will align with recently amended NSW anti-consorting laws.
The bill is another attempt by the Liberals to mirror the ACT’s anti-bikie laws with its surrounding states and territories but the bill is yet again faced with strong adversity, with the ACT Government insisting the current laws are enough to disrupt bikie gangs’ criminal activity.
The Canberra Liberals fear the establishment of the Satudarah in the ACT could renew the turf war between the rival gangs, which has sparked a series of violent attacks and crime across the nation’s capital.
Police arrested a 30-year-old male, believed to be the president of the ACT Satudurah chapter on 25 January and a 58-year-old woman on 31 January after a violent bikie attack at an Oaks Estate home which left a man seriously injured.
On 18 January, more than a dozen bikie gang members were involved in the melee inside an unnamed Woden club as patrons, including young children, were eating nearby.
The fight was followed by a targeted bikie attack on 4 February where cars were set alight and shots fired into a Kambah home, while a 32-year-old bikie member was arrested and charged with a number offences related to the alleged theft of a motor vehicle the following day.
Mr Hanson said the proposed legislation addresses the potential conflict with human rights legislation which has been an obstacle in the past and will only target outlaw bikies who knowingly and repeatedly make contact with multiple people with known criminal records.
He said the bill will put protections in place to prevent the laws from being misapplied and will help stop Canberra’s escalating bikie war.
“Since NSW passed anti-consorting laws nearly 10 years ago, we have seen clubhouses in NSW close down, and the bikie gangs here in the ACT grow from one to at least four,” Mr Hanson said.
“Worse, a turf war has started that has seen shots fired into homes with children, fire-bombings and brawls in family restaurants.
“We will no longer be an oasis for violent gangs to fight over. If we do not act to make the ACT just as safe as NSW, these gangs will continue to come here, they will continue to fight, and sooner or later, someone will get killed.”
However, the ACT Government is adamant it will not introduce anti-consorting laws and accused the Canberra Liberals’ of “scaremongering”.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said anti-consorting laws do not work and pointed to a NSW Ombudsman’s report that found that the laws disproportionately affected vulnerable groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Mr Hanson said, however, that the bill the Liberals are proposing has “included special recognition for people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures”.
Mr Ramsay said bikie gang numbers are proportionately higher in other states of Australia with anti-consorting laws, with only 60 of 4,770 patched bikie members across the country settling in the ACT. Mr Ramsay said despite the new formation of the Satudarah, bikie numbers had not increased in the ACT.
“ACT Policing regularly uses new crime scene powers, which commenced in 2018 to secure evidence against gang members. Our Courts can already make orders against convicted criminals to stop them from meeting with other known criminals,” Mr Ramsay said.
Do you think anti-consortium laws will help put an end to bikie violence around Canberra or are they ineffective and unintentionally target vulnerable groups? Have your say below.