Stephen McMahon and Mark Buttler
From: Herald Sun
BIKIE clubhouses would be dismantled and sold in a crackdown on criminal motorcycle gangs under tough new laws proposed by the State Opposition.
The move would allow police to close down the fortified clubhouses of gangs engaged in illegal activity and sell the properties, with money being returned to the state's coffers.
The proposed new anti-fortification laws, based on similar legislation in the Northern Territory, could jeopardise the clubs' ownership of property valued at millions of dollars.
In an election year pledge, the Liberal-National coalition will give the Supreme Court new and stronger powers to outlaw bikie gangs and close down the clubhouses, some of which police believe provide a shelter for criminal activity.
Victoria has at least 21 bikie clubs. Among the strongest are the Hells Angels, Bandidos, Rebels and Outlaws.
The most recent additions include the Finks and the Comancheros, who have moved in from interstate.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the State Government's soft approach on law and order had turned Victoria into a safe haven for bikies.
"Victorian families need protection from bikie gangs engaged in serious criminal activity - such as drug production and trafficking, violence, blackmail, extortion, arson and intimidation - who represent a major threat to public safety and order," he said.
"John Brumby's weakness on law and order has turned Victoria into a haven for criminal bikie gangs."
Criminal barrister Wayne Baffsky, who has represented NSW clubs in their fight against that state's bikie laws, described the Liberal plan as ridiculous.
Mr Baffsky, who has also represented the Hells Angels in court cases, said the move would set a terrible precedent.
There was a risk of it driving clubs further underground, he said.