Anti-fortification backlash

THE head of a Wodonga motorcycle gang does not expect Victoria’s new anti-fortification laws will be enforced or require changes at his group’s clubhouse.

Gypsy Joker president Brett Collins said the only barrier surrounding the new Wodonga clubhouse was a chain wire and Colorbond fence, both of which “could be cut with a can opener”.

But Mr Collins said the government had to draw the line somewhere.

“Sooner or later you’ll have to register your carving knives,” he said.

The new laws give police authority to strip fortifications and cameras from bikie clubhouses.

Mr Collins said some clubhouses had those measures in place simply for security.

“Most Harleys are worth $30,000 and if you have 10 or 20 in the clubhouse you want to secure them,” he said.

“This security lowers the cost of insurance just like your house because it’s at less risk.”

Lawyer John Suta, principal of Nevin Lenne & Gross, has represented the Tramps motorcycle gang in court after members had their weapons confiscated and firearms licences cancelled.

Mr Suta said the new law was “unfair” and bikies were being discriminated against because of an intimidating stereotype.

“It offends the right to privacy,” he said.

“Their clubhouse is a place for them to go and share common interests and feel comfortable — I can’t see how it’s any different from a pub.”

Mr Suta admitted there had been corruption among some bikies but that did not give the government grounds to create an anti-fortification law.

“It’s obvious there’s criminal activity in the police force and Catholic church as well,” he said.

“But I don’t see anyone bulldozing churches or police stations.”

Mr Suta said he would be taking vigorous action if there was any attempt made to dismantle a clubhouse.

North East Victoria’s police Superintendent Paul O’Halloran said he did not believe the region’s motorcycle clubs would be targeted.

“It’s a statewide issue and not just our area,” Supt O’Halloran said.

He said outlaw motorcycle gangs were not a major concern in the North East.

“We don’t expect any issues to occur but we’ll maintain our strong vigilance,” he said.