Bandidos blast Tasmanian 'anti-gang' law bid, deny involvement in ice drug trade

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The Bandidos say motorcycle clubs "will never be legislated out of existence" and they would happily work with the Tasmanian community to "address concerns" in a detailed submission arguing against amendments to the law to target outlaw motorcycle gangs.

In a written submission responding to the Organised Criminal Gang Legislation position paper, which sets out the Tasmanian Government's proposals for possible reforms to the Police Offences Act 1935, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club (BMC) addresses each of the eight proposed amendments, arguing "no existing member had engaged in serious criminal activities" in Tasmania, to the "very best of our knowledge".

The club also said the accusation its members were involved in the ice drug trade is "categorically refuted and is completely unsubstantiated".

The position paper lists the Bandidos, the Rebels, the Black Uhlans, the Devil's Henchmen and the Outlaws as having a presence in Tasmania.

The proposals, which are hoped to emulate similar changes in Queensland and New South Wales, have been criticised by some motorcycle enthusiast groups and the Australian Lawyers Alliance, which has described them as "very, very concerning".

On their Facebook page, Tasmania Police posted a list of what it said were "myths" about the proposals, and its counterarguments as "fact".

 

In response to the assertion "MYTH: the proposed legislation will be used to target other groups, like motorcycle clubs or football clubs", Tasmania Police countered with "FACT: No, if you're a member of one of Tasmania's many law-abiding motorcycle clubs then the proposed colours prohibition laws will not affect you. The new laws are targeting criminal motorcycle gangs".

 

"Clubs like the Motorcycle Riders Association, Tasmanian Motorcycle Council, Harley Owners Group, Ulysses Club, God Squad and Vietnam Veterans etc won't be affected," police said.

"MYTH: Not all outlaw motorcycle gang members are bad — they are just guys who love to ride," to which police said "outlaw motorcycle gangs are criminal enterprise businesses who use the wearing of colours to recruit and intimidate members of the public. It's also used to threaten people to deter them from reporting crime or giving evidence".

Police also said the "myth" that "outlaw motorcycle gangs aren't a problem in Tasmania", was incorrect.

"Outlaw motorcycle gangs are first and foremost organised criminal gangs which are significant players in controlling the importation and distribution of drugs, especially ice and speed, into Tasmania. Their business model involves serious violence and drug trafficking and they are constantly trying to expand their numbers in Tasmania to increase their drug trafficking network," police said.

The Bandidos' submission, obtained by the ABC, said any suggestion of their members being involved in the importation and distribution of methylamphetamine, also known as ice, "is categorically refuted and is completely unsubstantiated".

"Distribution, possession or use of ice is and always has been totally prohibited in any way shape of form and is not tolerated whatsoever," the submission stated.

"Violation of this rule is met with the minimum penalty of instant dismiss from the club and no existing member of the Bandidos has had ice related convictions, to the very best of our knowledge," the club said.

 

Tasmania Police listed what it said were examples of "OMCG violence" from around Australia, including:

  • September 2, 1984: The Milperra Massacre — seven people killed in a battle between the Comancheros and Bandidos
  • July 15, 1999: A bomb blast demolished the proposed new Rebel's clubhouse in Adelaide causing damage to nearby homes
  • August 8, 1999: Bomb attack on Bandidos' clubhouse in Geelong, Victoria
  • September 20, 1999: Homemade bomb attack on the Bandidos' clubhouse in Gosford, NSW
  • May 2009: A report showed OMCGs were sourcing stolen military style weapons. One of several stolen rocket launchers was recovered from the Bandidos

Proposed amendments:

  1. Modernise the existing consorting law in the Police Offences Act 1935 to render it consistent with the legislation in other jurisdictions that is conviction based. This replacement offence will prohibit a person aged 18 years or more, who has been convicted of a serious offence, from habitually consorting with another nominated person, aged 18 years or more, who has also been convicted of a serious offence.
  2. Change the consorting law so that a prohibition on association only applies after that person has been supplied with a written consorting warning notice issued by an Officer of Police (ie the rank of Inspector or higher).
  3. Allow for review mechanisms when a person is given a consorting warning notice, so that a person issued a notice can seek review from an Officer of a higher rank, and if still aggrieved, may then apply to a Magistrate for a notice to be revoked.
  4. Create a number of defences to consorting for associating with family members, in the course of other identified lawful activities.
  5. A statutory time limit of five years will apply to the length that a consorting warning notice is valid.
  6. Prohibited item legislation similar to Queensland be introduced via amendments to the Police Offences Act 1935. Under such a model, it would be an offence for a person to wear, carry or openly display in a public place (or in/on a vehicle in a public place) clothing, jewellery or other insignia that show the patches, insignia or logo of an 'identified organisation'.
  7. That the Minister for the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management has the authority to prescribe by regulations which groups are identified, if they are satisfied that the wearing of the prohibited insignia relating to that organisation may cause members of the public to feel threatened, fearful or intimidated; or may otherwise have an undue adverse effect on the health or safety of members of the public, or the amenity of the community, including by increasing the likelihood of public disorder or acts of violence.
  8. In determining whether or not to prescribe an organisation, the Minister must have regard to whether any person has, while a member of, or a participant in an organisation, engaged in serious criminal activity or been convicted of an offence involving public acts of violence, or damage.

Source: Tasmania Police

 

Police also listed what it said were incidences of crime in Tasmania involving bikies, including an alleged encounter between two groups in the lead up to the Bandidos visit to Tasmania in November 2017.

"Prior to the Bandidos' run, a number of members of the local Mersey Chapter attended a pro-boxing event at the Devonport Basketball Stadium. Also in attendance were members of the Outlaws Devonport Chapter. There was significant tension between the two groups with verbal abuse occurring," police said.

"Information provided to police indicate that the Outlaws intended to protect their 'turf' and were prepared to resort to violence to do so. A strong police presence prevented this from occurring."

The Bandidos said while they agreed "serious crime touches the lives of all Australians in unprecedented ways", the "true percentage" of serious crime related to OCMGs was "less than two per cent nationwide".

They refuted the police assertion that OMCGs were "involved in violence, murders, shootings, drug manufacture and distribution, and intimidation", and said "distribution, possession or use of ice is, and always has been, totally prohibited in any way shape of form and is not tolerated whatsoever".

The club said other than the 1984 Milperra incident no evidence had been tendered from "over three decades" which linked Bandidos to incidences of violence, so the club should be "exempt" from any determination by Tasmania's Police Minister that the Bandidos are a prescribed organisation.

Proposal Six, which aims to make it an offence to wear, carry or openly display in a public place insignia or a logo of an 'identified organisation' was a misinterpretation of the meaning of the "1 %" logo, the club said.

Contrary to the Australian Crime Commission report stating the symbol is meant as a clear indication the wearer "chooses to operate outside the law with a strongly implied propensity to be involved in violence", the true meaning was somewhat different, the Bandidos argued.

"Our actual view is that the 1% represents us as being in the top 1 per cent of motorcycle clubs that are positive and good," the club's submission said.

 

The proposed amendments, which have been described as "absolutely unnecessary and very, very concerning" by the Australian Lawyers Alliance, would have little effect on clubs, the Bandidos said.

 

"It is our view, motorcycle clubs will never be legislated out of existence," it said.

The Bandidos said motorcycle clubs and communities "of which we are a part" should cooperate to "cultivate a forum in which we collectively construct initiatives in an effort to address public concern".

"Given that opportunity, the Bandidos would gladly and sincerely participate," the club said.

But Tasmania Police said the "size and influence of outlaw motorcycle gangs in Australia had expanded considerably" over the past decade — and Tasmania was fertile ground.

"Tasmania has 259 outlaw motorcycle gang members — that's more than South Australia," police said on its website.

"With new laws being introduced in other states, it's likely the outlaw motorcycle gangs will come here in even greater numbers."

Public submissions to the position paper have closed, with police stating they will be made public by 18 May, 2018.

The Government said the legislation was expected to be drafted and tabled in State Parliament in June.

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News Article written by: 
Edith Bevin and James Dunlevie
Source of News article: 
abc.net.au




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