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Bikies consider peace talks -

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Bikies consider peace talks

The World Today - Thursday, 26 March , 2009 12:22:00

Reporter: Lisa Millar

ELEANOR HALL: An expert on bikie violence says that peace talks between the gangs might be the only
way to deal with the deadly problem in New South Wales. The feud that involves five bikie gangs
including the Hells Angels and the Comancheros is threatening to escalate.

And Arthur Veno, who's studied gangs for two decades, says peace talks are more likely to succeed
than tough legislation banning the groups. But the New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees says it's
too late for talking.

Lisa Millar has our report.

LISA MILLAR: After months of unrest, shootings and fatal assaults at least one of the bikie gangs
is suggesting sitting down for peace talks.

The Comancheros' lawyer Lesly Randle outlined the conditions of the offer.

LESLY RANDLE: There will be no bikes ridden and there will be no colours or emblems worn by any
persons that he is associated with.

LISA MILLAR: The police gang squad has made it clear it's not negotiating with the bikies and that
they're on notice. The police are concentrating on every step they take.

LISA MILLAR: Arthur Veno from Monash University has spent his career studying bikie gangs and says
peace talks are the only way forward, creating a confederation of clubs where they thrash things
out at weekly or monthly meetings.

He says a model that's worked in the north-east of America allows two members from each club to
attend the meeting.

ARTHUR VENO: The model that is on offer, as I would see it, is that the bikies clean their act up
through a form of what's called the confederation of clubs, or they face the fact that they're
going to be under incredible police scrutiny, which is in nobody's interests, particularly the
majority of non-criminal members.

LISA MILLAR: Why do you think the Comancheros have come out with this suggestion of peace talks
now?

ARTHUR VENO: Well because they are directly under the hammer and quite frankly I, I have very
little trust in the Comancheros, based on my experiences with them, in terms of their intentions
etc.

LISA MILLAR: So you think this mightn't even be sincere?

ARTHUR VENO: Unfortunately I would be cynical but nevertheless I would take the opportunity to, ah,
to do what they say in the good faith that it would allow for the establishment of a confederation
of clubs model.

LISA MILLAR: But the New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees isn't convinced peace talks will solve
anything.

NATHAN REES: The key departure from history here has been the spilling over into the public domain
of violent incidents and we will not tolerate that. That's why these laws are going to be, we're
reviewing existing laws with a view to bringing them in as quickly as possible.

LISA MILLAR: And he says it's extraordinary that suggestions have been made that police officers
should provide protection during any planned talks. But Arthur Veno says possible peace talks could
be the only solution.

ARTHUR VENO: Our only hope really is to grab the bull by the horns and try these lateral kinds of
moves. It's, if we do this, we've got a chance at actually bringing alongside a peace and a sense
of public safety which is the real problem when you look at the amount of crime that the clubs are,
you know, involved in.

For example in your state, New South Wales, they account for, all gang crime, accounts for 0.6 of
one per cent of total crime. Now how much resources do we want to pour down that tube?

I think if we can get the bikies up and into a peace negotiation situation which results in a
functional, functional club, then, excuse me - functional confederation of clubs, where wars are
diverted, that's a hell of a lot cheaper and a hell of a lot more effective than legislation.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Monash University academic Arthur Veno ending that report from Lisa Millar.