POLICE have intensified their war on bikie clubs, cancelling the firearms licences of almost 20 members of clubs around Victoria.
The move follows the seizure of more than 100 licensed guns from dozens of bikies around the state in August. The owners of the guns had their licences suspended by Chief Commissioner Ken Lay at the same time.
Nine members of the Wangaratta-based Tramps motorcycle club had taken legal action against Mr Lay to force him to return their weapons and lift the suspension of licences.
However, at a Supreme Court hearing in Wangaratta on Thursday, lawyers for Victoria Police told the Tramps Mr Lay had cancelled the licences, despite none of the club’s members having criminal convictions.
”We turned up to court today to fight a suspension notice and then counsel for the Chief Commissioner stands up in open court and tells us the licences were cancelled as of 9.45 the night before,” John Suta, lawyer for the Tramps members, told Fairfax. Mr Suta said the Tramps members would bypass the prescribed legal steps to appeal the cancellation and take action in the Supreme Court to have it reversed.
It is also understood that members of the Derelicts motorcycle club – based in Benalla – have also had their licences cancelled, and that other bikies from Melbourne-based clubs have been told informally they will also be stripped of their licences.
The decision by Mr Lay to cancel the licences is the clearest sign yet that Victoria Police has stepped up its assault on Victoria’s bikie clubs, which the police and government describe as outlaw motorcycle gangs, a designation disputed by the bikies.
It comes days after the government introduced anti-association legislation, which would allow police to apply to the Supreme Court to have an organisation designated criminal.
If the application is successful, the judge can then make control orders banning members of that group from associating or participating in gang activities, including riding together and wearing club colours and emblems. They would also make similar orders from other states enforceable in Victoria.
Individuals who breach a control order will face up to five years’ jail and organisations can be fined up to $400,000 and have assets confiscated.
Detective Superintendent Peter De Santo, from Victoria Police crime command, confirmed Mr Lay had exercised his discretion to cancel the licences.
”He’s exercised his discretion on the grounds of not being ‘fit and proper persons’ to hold a firearms licence in the state of Victoria, because of the membership of, or affiliation with, outlaw motorcycle gangs,” he told Fairfax. ”The possession of a firearms licence in this state is a privilege, not a right.”
Law Institute of Victoria president Michael Holcroft attacked the cancellation as an example of ”guilt by association”, and said the men would have had to show they were fit and proper persons when given the licences.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.