The Yandina Hotel. Photo: Supplied.
A Rebels motorcycle club member set to be charged under Queensland's hardline anti-bikie laws says the Newman Government has made it illegal to have a beer with your family.
Four alleged outlaw bikies, who walked into a Queensland bar, have been arrested and charged under the Newman Government's controversial anti-association laws.
Rebels' Sunshine Coast chapter member Mike Smith was also in the pub at the time but was not arrested. He was planning to hand himself in to police.
He compared the persecution of bikies with that experienced by recently deceased former South African president Nelson Mandela.
‘‘A few days ago the greatest statesman of the world died. World leaders called him a terrorist when he was locked up, just for fighting for his rights to be black. They're doing the same thing here," he said.
"What threat do a group of blokes having a beer on the veranda of a pub pose to anyone?’’
Police seize security footage
Other patrons at the Yandina Hotel, in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland, reportedly alerted police to the bikie meeting in early November.
Police seized CCTV footage from the hotel two weeks ago.
Officers from the Sunshine Coast district and Taskforce Maxima made the arrests after executing search warrants at five properties on Tuesday morning.
Four men, who police say are members of the Rebels, will face Maroochydore Magistrates court on Tuesday after allegedly attending the pub together in the past month.
The men, aged between 30 and 56, were charged under the laws that ban three or more members of outlaw clubs meeting in a public place. A 26-year-old man was also assisting with inquiries, police said.
Those charged face a mandatory prison term of six months.
Victoria Police say they are considering using the laws to prosecute bikies in that state, and several other jurisdictions are closely monitoring Queensland's legislation, which is being challenged in the High Court.
Arrests send 'clear message': police
Mr Smith said he had attended that small pub with his son-in-law last month, not realising his two sons and another man would also be there.
None of the men were wearing club colours and three were not club members, according to Mr Smith.
Police said the men spent several hours at the hotel north of Brisbane.
“This sends a clear message to all members of criminal motorcycle gangs that police will take action in every instance where evidence and information is received,” Detective Superintendent Mick Niland said.
“Police from the Sunshine Coast have done a great job investigating the information provided by the community which has resulted in a positive result today. I’d like to reinforce to the community across the state to continue to assist police to stop illegal activities and criminal actions of gang members.”
We're fathers and grandfathers: Smith
Mr Smith said he and another of the men involved were grandfathers, and the others were fathers. He said he was also the primary carer for his wife who has a disability.
He admitted that three had previous criminal convictions, but said they were either irrelevant to the Rebels or had occurred decades earlier.
Mr Smith said in the 22-year history of the Sunshine Coast chapter, no Rebels member had been charged with a criminal offence.
Mr Smith and two fellow Rebels were ordered to leave the Maroochydore Magistrates Court last month while waiting to give evidence in a trial. A police sergeant warned the group they could be arrested under anti-association laws by sitting in the same court room together.
Victoria considers following suit
Mr Smith joined the club because of his love for motorbikes, he said. He has been a Rebel for 13 years and has owned 26 Harley Davidsons. He said his son-in-law had never owned a Harley or expressed any interest in the club but had put up a gutter at the club house because he was a builder, leading police to classify him as involved with the club.
Mr Smith said no Rebels had met at the club house since anti-association laws were passed.
"Queensland: beautiful one day, Nazi state the next," he said.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton told the ABC in October that he was asking for advice on whether a clause in Victorian laws could be used to circumvent the "all reasonable doubt" test, which makes the Victorian laws more difficult to enforce before court than the Queensland regulations.
Police may be able to register a "corresponding declaration" from another state, without a Supreme Court judge having to consider an application.
"It would appear on first reading that once an agency or an organisation ... such as an outlaw motorcycle gang is declared in Queensland, that we are able to make a corresponding declaration here, so that's what we are looking at the moment," Mr Ashton said.