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PM Tony Abbott announces $10m strike team for WA to crackdown on bikie gangs

Police and TRG officers conduct a raid on the Coffin Cheaters headquarters in South Frema

Police and TRG officers conduct a raid on the Coffin Cheaters headquarters in South Fremantle. Picture: File image Source: News Limited

A $10 MILLION strike team will be set up in Western Australia to combat bikie gangs, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

It will target about 450 active members of nine outlaw motorcycle clubs in WA, and report to the $64 million National Anti-Gangs Squad.

Mr Abbott said the strike team would enable greater co-ordination between federal police, the Australian Crime Commission and West Australian police.

He told 6PR Radio it was an important new initiative.

“We do need to keep a good eye on them and we do need to crack down on all criminal activity,” he said.

“We know that bikie gangs are very, very active in drugs, prostitution, money laundering.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a $10 million strike team will be set up in WA t

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a $10 million strike team will be set up in WA to combat bikie gangs. Picture: Marie Nirme

“There's also the intimidatory aspect of these gangs when they get together and as we know, there are elements of gangs now involved with rogue elements of some of our unions, particularly the construction union.

“This is an added dimension to the gang problem in Australia and is one of the many reasons why we need a co-ordinated approach.”

Mr Abbott said the $10 million in funding would be enough for four years.

He said the federal government would continue to fight bikie gangs “until this problem is beaten”, although he conceded there were “no magic wands” and a range of measures were necessary.

The prime minister rejects claims Australia's new push against bikies is removing human rights.

“It's not about taking anyone's rights away – it's about giving police the resources and importantly, the co-ordination to crack down on what is a national problem, a cross-border problem, which is very hard for the state police force to tackle on their own.”

Mr Abbott conceded bikies were mostly “a menace to each other instead of the public”, although their drug peddling was particularly hurtful to society.

The new squad was signed off by federal cabinet at a meeting in Perth this afternoon.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said similar “strike force teams” had been rolled out in NSW, Queensland and Victoria already.

Those squads had arrested 125 people on 350 charges and confiscated 41 motor vehicles between them.

“They have proved to be very very successful,” Mr Keenan said.

“This investment is the best thing the Commonwealth can do.”

Police Minister Liza Harvey and Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said they were thrilled with the Federal Government’s commitment.

“When you have a look at the drugs that are filtering down to a street level in Western Australia, outlaw motorcycle gangs and organised crime are behind that,” Ms Harvey said.

“From my perspective I’m really thrilled the Federal Government has wasted no time in putting some funding towards ensuring that the states and the Commonwealth can work together to break the back of organised crime in our community.”

Mr O’Callaghan said the $10 million injection would help boost surveillance and intelligence gathering on bikie gangs and organised crime outfits.

“We are going to use that (money) here in Western Australia to employ extra resources, an extra surveillance team, five imbedded AFP officers…that will enable us to do a lot more around gang crime and lift our effort in that area,” he said.

“There are nine (bikie) gangs in Western Australia and a lot of crime is committed by them…we are going to provide more effort in bringing them to justice and disrupting their activities.”