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Why NQ’s Rebels members are telling their side of the story

Rebels Motorcycle Club members speak out about the states laws. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
JUST over two years ago Dean Anderson and Russell Frost became persona non grata in Queensland.

Rebels Motorcycle Club members speak out about the states laws. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

The pair are “outlaws” in the eyes of the law. Bikies, gang members, criminals.

As the unofficial president of the Rebels in north Queensland and a founding member of the Cairns chapter, they became public enemy No.1 when the State Government’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment laws came into effect in October 2013.

Anderson has been strip searched on the side of a road. Frost says his Little Mulgrave home and workplace have been visited six times in 18 months by police.

They have never spoken publicly before – hoping the controversial laws would be thrown out when bean counters realised the millions spent trying to splinter the clubs did not prove value for money.

But on the eve of an annual meeting in Cairns over the weekend at Frost’s house, where members from across north Queensland rode into town to reunite, they asked to put their point across.

They say what has come from authorities since VLAD laws began has been little more than propaganda and scaremongering. They say it has made their lives unnecessarily difficult. And they say their club members as a whole are not, nor should they be treated as, criminals.

“We are motorcycle riders first and foremost, that is what we’ve done all our lives,” Anderson said. “All our mates, all our friends are in the club.

“As far as the police are concerned they’re trying to tarnish us, they’re trying to alienate us from the general public, but we are part of the general public whether they like it or not. We’re taxpayers, we’re workers, we’re fathers. I’ve got six grandchildren and one great grandchild, so I’m part of a family.”

The Rebels are the biggest of the so-called outlaw gangs with about 150 members in Queensland. Anderson is based in Mackay and although resigning from his position for the sake of the laws, he unofficially presides over six chapters – Cairns, Townsville, Charters Towers, Mount Isa, Rockhampton and Mackay.

He works in the mines on a two week on, one week off schedule and has been in the mining industry for decades.

Frost runs a Cairns plumbing company. He helped restart the Cairns Rebels chapter about seven years ago after it had been disbanded for some time.

The pair have known each other for more than 30 years and are close mates, having first met as “young bucks” in Brisbane.

For them, they say it has always been about the bikes.

Anderson says he has never touched drugs, or even cigarettes, in his life, albeit for Nurofen for a bad neck, the product of years of riding.

“We just want to get the truth out, it’s as simple as that,” Frost said.

“Whether the public want to believe that or not is up to them, but we’ve never said our piece and we think it’s probably time after two years. The cops have had a lot to say. Maybe we should say something back after all this time.”

The Brisbane-based Taskforce Maxima was launched to spearhead the VLAD laws, which were introduced by former premier Campbell Newman. They operate across the state, although frequently wrangle in local officers when they travel to perform raids or make arrests.

It was the infamous Broadbeach brawl between the Bandidos and the Finks that sparked their inception. Frost labelled this a “turning point”.

He said the frequent police visits to his home and business began after that and it reached the point where he had to get his Cairns-based solicitor to call police on his behalf.

Anderson said the club has a staunch view on crime, particularly in relation to hard drugs, and it even forms part of their constitution.

“With the Rebels, if any of our members get caught with, it was always heroin, but now it’s crack and ice, if any of our members get caught using, selling or lending money for any of those sort of drugs, they’re automatically out of the club because we don’t stand for it,” he said.

“We don’t put up with it, we don’t have idiots in the club who are going to do stupid things and make us all look like fools. All our blokes are told exactly the same thing, ‘don’t do anything, we don’t want stuff coming back on the club because of what you’re doing’. (People are) going to be criminals if they’re in a motorcycle club or not in a motorcycle club if that’s the way they roll, that’s just what they’re going to do.”

The Labor Government has now put the laws under review, although an outcome is not expected until March next year.

Several cases against various club members are pending the result, including several in Cairns such as Odin’s Warriors’ Mark Filtness and Peter Johnson, whose cases were adjourned again on Friday.

Anderson and Frost say they are hopeful of a reprieve.

Currently club members cannot travel in groups of more than two and cannot wear their colours into licensed venues.

The pair say generally local police have been understanding, even acknowledging during raids or traffic stops that they were just serving a higher power.

They also say it is not just club members who are missing out with local publicans losing valuable revenue when they used to travel in large groups during poker runs. Frost said despite the obvious agenda to dismantle clubs, it had not worked.

“We’re still here, we’re still together,” he said.

“That’s just how the laws aren’t working because we do catch up. I go to their house, they come to mine.”

They believe the reputation of their club has not been permanently tarnished though and if the laws were lifted there would be no major long-term effects.

“This is why we’re not worried because we know we’re not a criminal organisation and we know we will beat this in the end because there’s no evidence against us,” Anderson said.

“In the end we are going to win.

“It may take six months or six years but we will beat it and we will fight all the way because we are right.”

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