Bikies take protest to parliament

Bikers have converged on NSW’s parliament house seeking the repeal of anti-association laws they say were rushed in after a fatal brawl at Sydney Airport.


About 30 bikers from various groups, representing the United Motorcycle Council of NSW, roared along Macquarie Street, with other traffic coming to a standstill as police quietly kept an eye on events.

Led by chairman Mark “Ferret” Maroney, the council came to deliver a letter to Attorney-General John Hatzistergos.

“We’d like the anti-association laws debated, they weren’t debated when they first come in over a year ago, they were rushed through parliament and we want them to listen to us and we’re ready to debate them now,” Mr Maroney told reporters outside parliament.

While Mr Maroney said the council “have no fears”, there are concerns the laws will have an impact on family and friends.

“Our concerns about the laws – we have children, we have grandchildren – it involves everyone, not just bikers,” he said.

In the letter to Mr Hatzistergos the council refers to concerns aired by Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery that “the legislation was not necessary and could be used on any group”.

Control orders

Under the laws, the government may impose control orders on members of a “declared” organisation, prohibiting them from associating with other members. Anyone convicted faces up to five years in jail.

Mr Maroney told reporters: “We want to know why it wasn’t debated to start with, why it was rushed through.”

“We talked to politicians privately, off the record, who’ve said had they known exactly what the anti-association laws contained they would not have voted for it.”

Three council representatives entered Parliament House requesting that Mr Hatzistergos meet them and accept the letter.

But after a short wait they were told no one from the attorney-general’s office would see them because the letter posed a “security issue”.

Earlier on Wednesday Mr Hatzistergos told reporters the council had not contacted his office.

“I don’t negotiate over the application of criminal law,” Mr Hatzistergos told reporters. “If the hat fits, wear it.”

Opposition criticism

Opposition police spokesman Mike Gallacher said the bikie laws had not been put into practice.

“We moved heaven and earth to rush anti-outlaw motorcycle gang laws through the NSW parliament in early 2009, and the state Labor government have, to date, failed completely to actually exercise those laws,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

He also criticised police for not using the laws.

“A core component of the legislation was the new power given to police to declare a criminal organisation if they satisfied legislative criteria set down for assessment by the police commissioner,” Mr Gallacher said. “That still has not happened.”

Wednesday’s gathering outside Parliament House, where group members wore their colours, would have been a breach of the legislation, Mr Gallacher said.

“So the fact they protested at all is evidence enough that the state Labor government has failed.

“I’ll continue to call on the police minister and the attorney-general to push for these laws to be enforced.”

Anthony Zervas, 29, died in a brawl between warring bikie gangs at Sydney Airport on March 22, 2009, casting the spotlight on outlaw motorcycle groups.