MPs 'acting like Iraqi propaganda minister' on bikies
A STINGING comparison between the attitude of a North Coast MP towards a widely reported Queensland bikie invasion to that of an Iraqi minister who once denied the presence of American troops in Baghdad, been labelled as outrageous and offensive in parliament ranks.
During a late night speech in the NSW Upper House, Shadow Police Minister Walt Secord unleased a scathing assessment of what he perceived to be a failure on the part of North Coast MP's to address bikie activity in the region.
Noting the increased presence of bikes with Queensland numberplates on North Coast roads, the firebombing of the Nomad's clubhouse at Byron Bay, and a Hells Angel's fun run between Woodenbong to Murwillumbah which the ABC reported was a fundraiser for the pending High Court challenge in Queensland, Mr Secord questioned how much more evidence Tweed MP Geoff Provest needed.
"He (Mr Provest) reminds me of the Iraqi information and Propaganda Minister who, in 2003, denied American troops were invading Baghdad even as they advanced into his own place," Mr Secord said
"Mr Provest should admit that bikie gangs are on the North Coast and that his Government has done nothing to combat them," Mr Secord said
"The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one."
A spokesperson for NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher said it was "outrageous" for Mr Secord, a former Chief of Staff of the previous Labor Government, to even comment on police issues "since Labor failed to do anything for 16 years".
"The NSW Police Force are working around the clock to crack down on bikie gang violence (and)...has recently expanded its Organised Crime Squad, which now incorporates the Asian Crime Squad, the Organised Crime Targeting Squad and the Casino and Racing Investigation Unit," the spokesperson said
"The Government is also continuing to advocate to the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions, for the introduction of national anti-gang legislation.
Since footage emerged of police conducting aerial surveillance of notorious bikie gangs meeting around the region in January, the NSW Government has been under pressure to respond to claims disgruntled Queensland bikies are shifting south of the border.
NSW police chiefs have previously dismissed talk of a bikie invasion as an unsupported "myth".
In January, Acting Deputy Commissioner Geoff McKecknie maintained there was no evidence of increased bikie activity in the region and that the footage circulating the media is simply evidence of "the close scrutiny" all police forces pay to outlaw gangs.
Comment has been sought from Mr Provest and North Coast Minister Don Page.