Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs and Cessnock Electorate

I speak tonight about an issue that came to my attention just today. It is a serious concern and is causing some alarm across my electorate. It has to do with the proposed location of a motorcycle gang’s premises—it might be referred to as an outlaw motorcycle gang—in the Cessnock area. A very successful, long-term business that deals primarily in mowers, chainsaws and firearms and ammunition currently operates in a little commercial precinct in the small village of West Cessnock. On one side of the road there are two adjacent shops. One is the mower shop I have referred to, which also deals in firearms and weapons. A motorcycle club proposes to establish its new base in Cessnock right next door to that business. The idea of a motorcycle gang being located immediately beside a business that sells firearms and ammunition raises immediate concerns.

I draw the attention of the House to a piece of legislation to do with firearms and ammunition that Parliament passed last year. As a result of that legislation there is now a requirement for munitions dealers to keep a record of the people to whom they sell ammunition. They must keep that record in written form on their premises—it cannot be removed. So in Cessnock in the near future we may have a motorcycle gang’s premises located immediately beside the commercial premises of a firearms dealer. It does not take too much of a stretch of the imagination to appreciate the inherent risk.

Furthermore, under the firearms legislation that was passed in this place last year, the record of ammunition sales must specify the types of ammunition sold, the firearms they would be used in and, most concerning and most dangerously, the addresses of the buyers. Essentially it is a shopping list of what types of firearms are stored and where. This information will be held on site at a premises immediately beside that of a motorcycle gang. Cessnock West Public School is located across the road from the premises and its 400 students would be exposed to all the goings-on there.

Motorcycle clubs and gangs of course have a right to exist; I do not stand in this Chamber tonight and suggest for one second that they do not. But history clearly indicates that bad will and bad behaviour can follow the establishment of some motorcycle gangs’ premises. This often presents in the form of drive-by shootings, and sometimes bombings and fires. We have all seen, read or heard about that. In this case a motorcycle gang proposes to locate its commercial premises next door to a firearms dealer and immediately across the road from a school with 400 students aged between five and 12 years. This is not an acceptable risk; indeed, it is completely unacceptable. At present we do not have the capacity to prevent this occurring. The motorcycle gang is entitled to make an application to occupy those commercial premises for its commercial business. It is an incredibly unfortunate and dangerous situation.

However, Parliament can remedy the situation by addressing the need to record unnecessary details when ammunition is sold. The bill was prompted by the number of drive-by shootings that we had. Since the bill was enacted we have had several more drive-by shootings but never on any occasion have the police asked the firearms and ammunition dealer at Cessnock to present records of persons who had purchased ammunition of the calibre that may have been used in a drive-by shooting. The point is that keeping these records on the premises is completely useless and dangerous but we can remedy that in this House. We must remedy it because a volatile situation is emerging in my main area of Cessnock that will put businesses and students at risk, which is completely unacceptable.