Responding to Organized Crime in Australia and New Zealand
Ayling, J. and R. Broadhurst, , ‘Organized crime in Australia and New Zealand’, in L. Paoli Ed., Oxford Handbook of Organized Crime, OUP: Oxford. Forthcoming
19 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2013
Date Written: September 21, 2011
On 22 March 2009 a brawl erupted at Sydney domestic airline terminal between two outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs), the Hells Angels and Comancheros, during which a participant was stabbed and bludgeoned to death with a metal bollard in front of travelers. A few days later his brother, a Hells Angel who had also participated in the mêlée, was shot and seriously wounded outside his home. The extraordinary open violence at the airport was the subject of intense media attention already attracted by longstanding tensions between the Hells Angels and Comancheros and incidents of armed conflict between rival OMCGs the Bandidos and Notorious.
The public spectacle of this murder constituted a turning point in Australia’s approach to OMCGs. It was the trigger for changing a measured inquiry into controversial new laws on serious and organized crime passed in South Australia in 2008 into the rapid adoption of laws similar to those in South Australia in three other Australian jurisdictions, with others foreshadowing such laws. The Premier of New South Wales reflected public alarm when he announced new legislative measures to address the OMCG problem the following day: "I was sickened by this brazen attack. Violence of this nature particularly in front of families and children is nothing short of disgusting" (Welch 2009). Although the additional police powers (discussed below) were widely criticized, bi-partisan political support enabled them to be rushed into law. It was also a catalyst for a wider debate about organized crime in Australia, and hastened the adoption of a nationally coordinated approach between each of Australia’s nine jurisdictions (comprised of six states, two territories and the federal jurisdiction) to combat organized crime.
Keywords: organised crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Australia, violent crime, tainted wealth
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