ACT News

Lack of control orders may attract more bikies to ACT

Policing and legal experts have warned bikie gangs may continue to meet in the ACT as members seek to avoid control orders and anti-association laws in NSW and Queensland.

Dozens of Rebels bikies were stopped by ACT Police as they entered the territory on Friday night for what was believed to be their annual run at the weekend.

Rebels members are stopped by police near Hall.
Rebels members are stopped by police near Hall.  

Professor Roderic Broadhurst, chief investigator at the ARC Centre for Excellence in Policing and Security at the ANU, said the absence of consorting or anti-association laws in the ACT could be attractive to bikie gangs such as the Rebels.  

"The Rebels, however, are not a declared organisation under NSW law as yet but certainly one of the largest, so holding an annual [run] here, given interest by Queensland, NSW and Victoria police, may be considered prudent," he said.

This month, the High Court upheld anti-association laws introduced by the NSW government in 2012, which made it an offence for convicted criminals to repeatedly associate with each other; an act punishable by up to three years imprisonment or a $16,500 fine.

Rebecca Ananian-Welsh, a lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland, said there was "every chance" bikies may make more interstate trips to Canberra to bypass consorting laws in NSW and Queensland.  

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"The reactive response would be to say let's even out our laws but I don't know if that would stop organised crime or bikies from coming to Canberra," she said.

"The fear that if you don't measure up to a law in other states then you may become a safe haven for bikies is not a new fear."

In a statement issued via Canberra lawyer Ben Aulich, who represents several senior ACT Rebels figures, the Rebels said their presence would boost the ACT economy.

"The weekend is a get-together for a number of us. It's about camaraderie; it's about our bikes and doing what we love; it brings a lot of people and money into the Canberra community," the statement said.

"If you see us here in Canberra, there is nothing that anyone needs to worry about."

Ms Ananian-Welsh said state and territory governments had been concerned about bikie gangs moving from one jurisdiction to another to avoid control orders or anti-association laws, although this concern was often misplaced. 

"The control orders and anti-association laws aren't proved to be effective at all and there is little evidence they actually stop people from committing crimes," she said.

Ms Ananian-Welsh said the ACT government should be praised for not engaging in "a race to the bottom" competition to be tougher on bikies than neighbouring states or territories.

"The ACT has the advantage of a human rights act that can force deliberation regarding these laws from an early stage," she said. 

"If people are worried about a flood of bikies coming into the ACT, it would be good to realise that for a long time, at least since the NSW control orders were introduced in 2009, the ACT has had less organised crime measures than NSW," she said. 

In August, Attorney-General Simon Corbell launched ACT Policing's Taskforce Nemesis, which was tasked with tracking, disrupting and arresting members of bikie gangs involved in drug trafficking, illegal firearms, money laundering, extortion and serious assaults. 

Three Rebels gang members were arrested by police on Thursday after they allegedly pulled a gun and bashed two Finks members outside Belconnen mall on October 4. 

Police allege the trio then stole clothing bearing the Finks logo from the two men before leaving them shirtless and bleeding.

The alleged incident prompted a police informant to tell the ACT Magistrates Court they held fears that the Finks would seek payback.

 - with Michael Inman