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Attacks create bikie war concerns -

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Attacks create bikie war concerns

Broadcast: 03/05/2007

Reporter: John Stewart Michael Edwards

A recent spate of attacks on outlaw motorcycle clubs have created concerns a bikie war may be
brewing in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Transcript

LISA MILLAR: Now to our special report on bikie gangs in Australia, and after a spate of recent
attacks on outlaw motorcycle clubs, there are concerns that a new bikie war may be brewing in
Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The conflict between the clubs comes at a time of
sweeping change within some of the most notorious bikie gangs, as a new generation of members
introduce a potentially volatile ethnic mix. Lateline's John Stewart and Michael Edwards gained
rare access to some of Australia's most powerful motorcycle club leaders, who took us inside the
bikie world.

WILLIAM MARSDEN, INTERNATIONAL BIKIE EXPERT: What it offers to a young man is instant recognition
and instant power to wear the patch of a biker gang. You know, you go down the street and the crowd
parts.

SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT WHYTE, NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE GANG SQUAD: We're not the Anglo Saxon country we
were in the 1960s and 1970s and that's reflected back in the outlaw motorcycle gangs as well. I
don't think there's any surprise about that happening. I think that it was always going to happen.

DEREK WAINOHU, SYDNEY HELLS ANGELS PRESIDENT: We're easy targets. You can see us. We're not covert,
we're actually quite flamboyant, we're quite out there and we're a very easy target and we're good
TV. We're good publicity.

JOHN STEWART, REPORTER: ANZAC Day in western Sydney, and hundreds of bikies and motorcycle club
enthusiasts have turned out for a ride organised by the Hells Angels. There's a memorial service
and one of Australia's most powerful outlaw motorcycle club leaders draws a parallel between bikies
and the ANZAC spirit.

DEREK WAINOHU: Our grandfathers, fathers, brothers and sons were sent into battle and upheld the
ANZAC tradition for looking after their mates and giving it their all. Honour, loyalty and respect
this is the legacy of ANZACs. There is only one place that I've seen this truly in today's society
and that's within the motorcycle community.

JOHN STEWART: But police don't share the sentiment, and dozens of bikies are booked for traffic
infringements.

REPORTER: Why have they held you up?

BIKIE: Because some of the boys had ANZAC stickers on their number plates.

DEREK WAINOHU: I think that what the police are trying to do at the moment, they're paranoid as,
and I think what they've done today is just absolute overkill with no justification at all

JOHN STEWART: The ANZAC Day ride was a relatively polite affair, but during the past year a darker
side of the bikie world has been on display in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. There's
been shootings and attacks on bikie club houses and rumours of a looming bikie war between two of
Australia's biggest clubs, the Rebels and the Bandidos. In April last year, a Bandidos leader was
shot dead outside a restaurant in inner Sydney. The current tensions between clubs may be a sign of
change. Superintendent Scott Whyte heads the New South Wales Police Gang Squad.

DETECTIVER SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT WHYTE, NEW SOUTH WALES POLICE GANG SQUAD: It was commented to me
that it's from a bikie, an older bikie, that it's somewhat strange to walk into a pub and see a
fellow wearing a Nike t shirt, a baseball cap on and a pair of white shoes calling himself a bikie.

JOHN STEWART: Arthur Veno is an academic based at Monash University and has close contacts with
some of Australia's biggest bikie clubs. He says during the past three years the make up of
Australian bikie clubs has undergone a major change.

ARTHUR VENO, AUTHOR AND ACADEMIC: The influx of people from Middle Eastern descent, including the
Lebanese, has created some tensions between the old guard and the new guard. For example, some
clubs actually didn't take on new members for 17 years and when they did, these members formed
basically a completely new club in the midst of the old club's standards.

DETECTIVER SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT WHYTE: Once you get a few people of a certain ethnic grouping going
into an outlawed motorcycle gang, others will follow, and before long, they become the majority in
some gangs, and that's what we're seeing right now. Have those people got less respect? Yes, I
think so. I think we're seeing a more violent style of conflict at the moment and I think that's
partly the reason for it.

JOHN STEWART: But police say young Middle Eastern men are not the only new recruits. Young bikies
are emerging from Australia's Serbian, Greek and Italian communities. According to Arthur Veno, the
current tensions are a major concern for the older bikies who usually prefer to sort out conflicts
in private.

ARTHUR VENO: Well, the grey beards in the biker culture understand clearly that the direction taken
by the young hot heads in the clubs as to violence and high profile hits and club bombings et
cetera are really playing right into the hands of the politicians to create even more draconian
laws against bikers.

JOHN STEWART: Crime authorities operating separately to the NSW police have told Lateline that two
bikie clubs with links to Middle Eastern crime gangs are competing for control of nightclubs in
Sydney's King's Cross and the inner city.

DETECTIVER SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT WHYTE: I think there's little doubt that in recent times some of
the people joining outlawed motorcycle clubs here in Sydney have done so because of family
connections. I think that there's been an involvement in criminal activity, organised criminal
activity, within family groups and they see a bonus to them; that they see the ability of
connecting with an OMCG as helping their family business and that's the reason behind them doing
it.

JOHN STEWART: Police say bikies are also involved in drug trafficking, extortion, debt collecting
and car re-birthing, but Australia's most powerful bikie club leaders say that's a police beat up
and they reject theories about the new ethnic mix in outlawed motorcycle clubs. Derek Wainohu, the
Sydney President of the Hells Angels, says he has no problems with discipline in his club. People
from all ethnic backgrounds follow the same rules.

DEREK WAINOHU: I can only speak of my own club. My own club is like we're a bunch of motorcyclists
that get together. We're hard men and that's it. Like, we don't look at anybody's ethnic
background, we don't look at their marital status, we don't look at their bank account.

JOHN STEWART: Derek Wainohu says police exaggerate bikie crime because they're an easy, highly
visible target. He says there is some crime within bikie clubs but that goes for all sections of
society.

DEREK WAINOHU: Go to the local RSL Club, the local football club, within that group of men you'll
probably find someone that's got a criminal record for assault or drugs or break and enter, but
nobody says that the entire football club or RSL or league's club is a break-and-entering, drug
dealing organisation.

JOHN STEWART: However, Canadian based author and bikie expert William Marsden maintains that bikie
clubs are part of a global crime network.

WILLIAM MARSDEN, INTERNATIONAL BIKIE EXPERT: Into Africa and South Africa they're moving into Asia
now, into eastern Europe and into Russia. You have biker gangs in Moscow now, in St Petersburg and,
of course, in your country, Australia, which has had biker gangs since the '60s.

JOHN STEWART: Australia has so far been spared the scale of violence associated with bikie wars
overseas. In Canada during the 1990s, hundreds of people were killed when the bigger clubs moved to
consolidate their power base by taking over the smaller clubs.

WILLIAM MARSDEN: Here in Montreal they tried to assassinate a journalist. They shot him five times
in the back. They tried to they assassinated prison guards. They had a hit list of judges, of
politicians et cetera. They are determined to establish themselves wherever they go in such a way
that even the police are afraid of them.

JOHN STEWART: Bikie violence in Australia has had its moments. The most infamous episode was
Sydney's Milperra massacre in 1984 when six bikies and a young woman were killed. In 2001, a former
senior West Australian policeman was blown up in his car after bikies suspected he'd shot dead one
of their members. Despite the recent attacks on club houses, Arthur Veno claims that police bikie
task forces are not cost-effective.

ARTHUR VENO: The clubs are such small players in the overall picture of organised crime and
methamphetamines as well, that it's really a shocking waste of resources to create bikie task
forces and to create them as a primary problem and goes against the data which the police have in
their hands.

DEREK WAIHOHU: But what I'd like to see is for them to justify the expense that they've put into
this biker task force against what they're getting in return to taxpayers in New South Wales. If
you were to remove every outlaw motorcycle club member in Australia, I believe there would be no
change greater than about one-tenth of 1 per cent of the crime rate in Australia.

JOHN STEWART: Alex Vella is the former national president of Australia's biggest bikie club, the
Rebels. He claims that Australia's top criminals don't ride motorbikes and are far less visible.

ALEX VELLA, FORMER REBELS NATIONAL PRESIDENT: The crime of today and I think you know more than me,
it's more of a white collar crime. Today, people don't go to a bank and rob it, they don't use no
guns. They can go and press a few buttons and your bank account can be emptied, as simple as that.

JOHN STEWART: But police say the bikie task forces are producing results.

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT WHYTE: I'm not saying for a second that 100 per cent of members of
outlaw motorcycle gangs are criminals but there is a substantial element that is and we, as a
community, I think, need to understand that; that we are dealing with people on the wrong side of
the law.

JOHN STEWART: William Marsden believes it's only a matter of time before things get a lot uglier in
Australia as larger bikie clubs move to consolidate their power base.

WILLIAM MARSDEN: I think that inevitably it's going to happen because the pressure on the entire
international organisation of a gang like the Bandidos or the Hells Angels to continue to grow and
to continue to prosper makes it almost necessary to try and dominate the local gang.

DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT SCOTT WHYTE: I've got no doubt that in 10 years the dynamics of outlaw
motorcycle gangs will be very different to what it is today. I couldn't even speculate as to which
way it will go. I just I think we just have to keep on monitoring it, keep on top of it, keep our
eyes open, keep our minds open for the change.

JOHN STEWART: That change may have already begun, as the new generation of bikies join the ride.