As the notorious bike gangs push Australia to edge, tough laws are being proposed in New South Wales.
While several states have been witnessing ugly clashes between rival gangs, a horrifying incident witnessed at the Sydney Airport last week seems to have jolted the authorities out of their complacency. New laws and a new strike force are among the measures now being put in place to fight the growing menace.
AdvertisementA Hells Angels bikie was killed in a huge brawl with rival club the Comanchero, in a brazen attack witnessed by dozens of travellers at Sydney Airport about 1.30pm Sunday.
29-year-old Anthony Zervas was bludgeoned to death by up to 20 men as travellers and families watched on in horror at Qantas's T3 terminal last Sunday afternoon.
The attack was the latest chapter in an ongoing war between bikie gangs the Hells Angels and the Commancheros.
Police facts tendered to the court say passengers on the plane saw a group of six heavily tattooed men sitting in an agitated state, and using their mobile phones throughout the flight.
A separate group of up to 10 men of Middle Eastern appearance arrived at Terminal Three and asked staff for directions to arrival gate five, where the brawl broke out.
The 29-year-old was knocked to the ground and bashed repeatedly in the head with a metal bollard, while terrified onlookers ducked for cover.
"I couldn't believe it," one witness told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"I stood there stunned, turned around and there was this little girl of about five clinging to her mother's hand, and her face was just white. She had seen it all, the guys swinging these heavy bollards at each other and then this massive pool of blood and a guy being worked on furiously by some onlookers."
New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees announced a new strike force after a briefing from Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione.
Mr Scipione said the groups were behaving like wild animals.
"If they behave like this then we have no choice but to hunt them down and deal with them. The community expects this of us," Mr Scipione said.
"In the past six months, police have charged 185 outlaw motorcycle gang members and associates with 572 offences and yet they still don't get the message.
He said the majority of those offences involved violence, drugs and weapons.
Police said the fight broke out about 1.35pm on Sunday after a group of men disembarked from a flight.
The dead man has been named by some media outlets as the brother of a Hells Angels gang member.
The attack came hours after the Sydney-based Bandidos had been involved in a series of drive-by shootings at six homes in Auburn, though that is believed to be linked to a feud with another club, Notorious.
Police on Friday officially launched Strike Force Raptor, aimed at eliminating bikie warfare and related criminal activity.
On Saturday night, officers searched 25 people and four cars as part of the operation.
Police arrested and charged two people and issued eight move-on notices after carrying out searches and patrolling 11 bars in Kings Cross and Parramatta.
NSW Premier Nathan Rees and Attorney-General John Hatzistergos on Sunday outlined tough new legislation calling for jail terms of two to five years for bikie gang members caught associating with one another after the gang is banned.
Mr Hatzistergos said a NSW Supreme Court judge would decide whether a bikie group should be banned after an application from the police commissioner.