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POLL: Police, pubs crackdown on bikie gang colours

MOTORCYCLE gang members will be banned from wearing clothing bearing their clubs’ insignias into Port Stephens pubs and clubs under new rules initiated by police.

Licensed venues in the Tomaree Liquor Accord, which includes all Nelson Bay area venues such as the Seabreeze Hotel, Anna Bay Tavern and Salamander Tavern, have agreed to apply a rule across the board to refuse entry into venues to bikies wearing ‘‘colours’’.

The term ‘‘colours’’ generally refers to patches, jackets, T-shirts, badges or other clothing bearing a club’s insignia.

The move has angered bikie group representatives but venues say the unified agreement, signed on Wednesday, formalised a rule already in place at most venues.

The venues occasionally get an influx of bikie club members because of Port Stephens’ location as a holiday destination.

It follows similar moves in Kings Cross in Sydney that took effect a year ago, and bans put in place since then in Liverpool and the Crown Casino Melbourne.

A United Motorcycle Council of NSW spokesman, known as Ferret, said publicans were being bullied by police into adopting the bans as part of statewide anti-association laws.

‘‘They don’t really have a choice in it,’’ he said. ‘‘The police say, ‘If you don’t sign this agreement we will hit you with the licensing police’.

‘‘They’re being stood over.’’

Ferret said that in the past wearing colours had not caused conflict because group members generally drank in their own area.

‘‘A lot of people, if they drop into a place, the locals know they’re just passing through,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s been people like this drinking in pubs and clubs for 40, 50 years and there was never a problem until police made it a problem.

‘‘It’s police propaganda.’’

He said refusing members entry was likely to cause more trouble.

‘‘It gets left to the poor security guards or bar workers to refuse entry,’’ he said.

‘‘Next minute you’ve got someone whose been drinking there 10, 20 years who refuses to leave.

‘‘That’s where the conflict would start.’’

The Newcastle Herald understands that no other liquor accords in the Hunter have taken such action.

Pubs and clubs in the Tomaree peninsula area of Port Stephens area will start displaying signs in the next week that will state that people wearing colours, clothing, jewellery or other accessories associated with a gang will be refused entry or removed from the premises.

While the rule has been aimed at bikie groups it could potentially apply to any group hoteliers view as a gang.

‘‘The Tomaree Liquor Accord believes that adopting this strategy through a local liquor accord will show a united and consistent approach,’’ a statement from the accord said.

Port Stephens acting crime manager Inspector Matthew Moroney said the move was not a response to any one or series of incidents and they did not have a problem with gangs in the area.

‘‘It’s in the minority; this is a proactive strategy from police in the local area,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s something we support and certainly are pleased to see.’’

Australian Hotels Association Newcastle president Rolly de With said there were other accords that had instituted such bans in NSW.

‘‘We certainly don’t have any issues in any of the hotels in Newcastle,’’ he said.

Tomaree Accord member Bruce Sanders, of the Seabreeze Hotel, said his venue had a long-standing rule against colours, and this formalised the ban as  common practice across all venues.

‘‘It’s something the police went to us with,’’ he said.

‘‘They are trying to adopt a consistent approach.’’

A spokesman for the NSW Office of Liquor and Gaming said all licensed venues had a common law right to refuse entry to people who breached a dress code as long as it complied with the Anti-Discrimination Act and liquor laws.


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