Bikie gangs are on a mission to spread the drug methamphetamine, or ice, across Australia, having made it part of their business model, the head of Australia’s new task force on ice has said during a visit to Tasmania.
Ken Lay, formerly Victoria’s chief police commissioner, said motorcycle gangs played an “enormous” role in ice being distributed across towns and cities throughout the country.
“(They are) one of the main drivers, there’s no doubt about that,” he told 936 ABC Hobart.
“They’re very well organised.
“They’ve got a business model that spreads this drug far and wide, and they are responsible for an enormous amount of harm in our community.”
In Tasmania, the increased presence of motorcycle gangs has run parallel with the rise of ice’s availability, addiction and its destructive impact on lives and communities.
The number of gang clubrooms in the state is nearing 20 and they have been aggressively recruiting new members.
The Rebels, Australia’s largest motorcycle gang, have eight chapters in Tasmania but the Outlaws, Black Uhlans, Satan’s Riders and Devil’s Henchmen have established clubrooms in the state.
Not restricted to larger towns and cities, the gangs have established toeholds in towns like New Norfolk, St Helens and Sorell.
While the rise of bikie presence has worried Tasmania’s authorities, the Government has not followed Queensland’s lead in adopting tough non-association laws.
But Mr Lay said his task force would determine what could be done for Tasmania on a federal level, but the problem went beyond law enforcement.
He said his team’s role was to learn why the drug’s use had risen so dramatically and what help could be provided to help affected individuals and communities.
“We can’t arrest our way out of it,” he said before emphasising that education and health support services had to be improved.
Mr Lay said the task force’s job was to consider every measure that might make a critical difference, including decriminalisation and federal legislation.
The task force will complete a preliminary report by June 30 and a final report by year’s end.