'Extreme concern' as bikies expand across Victoria
June 6, 2012
Flyer for a new clubhouse opening.
AUSTRALIA'S biggest outlaw motorcycle gang is expanding in Victoria, as police in Mildura brace themselves for potential violence following the opening of a new Rebels clubhouse in the country town.
Police have confirmed that the bikie gang is opening a chapter in the northern town, bringing the total number of chapters in Victoria to eight. On the same night, they are opening a clubhouse in the outer-eastern Melbourne suburb of Kilsyth, after relocating from nearby Croydon.
An advertising poster for the opening party at the Kilsyth clubhouse - located in an industrial area - spruiks strippers, topless barmaids and a spit roast, and says ''all welcome''.
Mildura police say violence has already broken out in the town as a result of the Rebels' push into the Sunraysia region. It is believed that three full-patched members of the club have moved to Mildura already, and that up to 150 Rebels from around Australia could turn up for the opening night party.
''We have already seen activity that we are concerned about, including a shot having been fired through the clubhouse window,'' Inspector Simon Clemence told The Age. ''We have undertaken a series of search warrants on members' homes in Mildura and have uncovered weapons, drugs and other items of concern.''
Inspector Clemence said the opening of the clubhouse represented ''an entrenchment'' of the Rebels in the area, and that the local police were extremely concerned by the development.
Detective Inspector David De Francesco of the anti-bikie Echo taskforce said he was aware of the two opening parties, and that taskforce detectives and local police would be monitoring the events and would respond if necessary.
''The Rebels [outlaw motorcycle gang] is the largest club in Australia with significant numbers in every state and territory,'' Inspector De Francesco said.
''With the expected opening of the Mildura chapter, there will be eight Rebels chapters in Victoria alone. Echo taskforce is aware of the expansion of some outlaw motorcycle gangs and are monitoring their activities closely.''
Police from three states turned out in force in Mildura last October when the Rebels ended their annual run with a mass gathering there. There was no reported trouble.
The expansion comes at a time of high tension among bikie gangs in Queensland and New South Wales. The Queensland Police Service has established a taskforce after two drive-by shootings and a fire in Brisbane on Monday that are understood to be bikie-related.