So the people who produced Underbelly have now unleashed Overbelly, a drama mostly about women removing their shirts and bras and bouncing their boobs about, with a trivial side plot focusing on bikies.
Bikiewars: Brothers in Arms premiered on Channel Ten last night and it was fine television, if by fine television you mean yet another drama glamourising the absolute dregs of Australian society.
It was also an excellent showcase for some talented Australian actors, if by talented Australian actors you mean women with a bra size in high alphabet letters who were willing to leave said garments at home on shooting days.
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No. Anyone who would suggest so is a dill. And possibly also a lawyer.
Not since the freedom rides through America’s Deep South in the 1960s has there been such an emotionally-charged call for basic freedoms. Except in this case the call for freedom has been mounted by organisations which have links to drug crime, gun-running, extortion, assault, murder, not to mention a steadfast refusal to cooperate with the police, even if it’s one of their own members who has been bashed or maimed.
Organisations which, when it comes to civil liberties, are more likely to be depriving others of their liberties – such as the liberty to board a plane with your kids without seeing someone beaten to death with a bollard at the airport in broad daylight, or to spend the afternoon shopping at a Gold Coast mall without being shot in the crossfire of a bikie war.
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It is an appropriate time to point out that the overwhelming majority of motorcycle owners do not get involved in drive-by shootings or airport brawls. Not even a little bit.
In fact, an increasing number of drive-by shooters and airport brawlers call themselves motorcycle riders but only occasionally throw a leg over a machine.
In 1947 the American Motorcyclist Association felt forced to declare that 99 per cent of motorcycle owners were law-abiding citizens. The outlaws took their minority status literally as a badge of honour and adopted patches branding themselves “the one percenters’‘. These days the patches would read “the statistically irrelevant’‘.
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About fifteen years ago I spent an inordinate amount of time at One Nation meetings.
The organisation was formed at Sydney’s iconic Rooty Hill RSL, where the parmigianas hang off your plate, and where Pauline Hanson made her first appearance as the party’s national leader before an adoring throng. The adulation was repeated across Australia, at the Gympie Town Hall and Caloundra RSL, in the logging communities of Gippsland, the pensioner enclaves of Bermagui and Batemans Bay.
One Nation received a hefty one million votes at the 1998 election. Its support came from disparate sources – blue-collar voters who disputed the free trade consensus between the major parties, oldies yearning for a whiter Australia – but the political ballast of the party’s support came from tragedy and its aftermath, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, which prompted John Howard to implement a national guns buyback just two months into his prime ministership.
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Vince Focarelli – alleged leader of the feared New Boys street gang and, briefly, an Adelaide group of Comancheros bikies – had already walked away from three attempts on his life.
It seemed unlikely that those who wished him harm were about to stop trying.
Last weekend, Focarelli’s aura of invincibility was shattered with tragic results. A hail of gunfire left the man himself with a head wound and claimed the life of his son Giovanni, who was just 22.
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I am not sure who the South Australian Police Commissioner is. Is it still Mal Hyde? Or did we get a new one? You wouldn’t know. Whoever he is, he is, as they say, a quiet man who keeps to himself.
In fairness, it’s not as if the South Australian Police Service has been doing nothing. Earlier this year, via its Twitter site, SAPOL courageously announced that it was launching an all-out blitz on one of the gravest threats to civil society - jaywalking. In a joint venture with Channel Nine, cameras were mounted at some of Adelaide’s most lethal intersections, places such as Beehive Corner which are a magnet for these dangerous criminals, with the offenders being nabbed and shamed as they went about their despicable enterprise.
We can all sleep safer as a result.
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At a guess you could probably assume that none of our seven High Court judges lives in Merrylands, in Sydney’s west, where the Nomads and Hells Angels are engaged in what the police reassuringly describe not as a bikie gang war but merely “tit for tat violence”.
It is also unlikely that any of these eminent jurists lives in Northmead, where an innocent woman had her house strafed with bullets while she was sleeping last week in a zany address mix-up by a bikie who was having trouble reading his UBD.
Presumably, none of the judges lives in Adelaide’s north-western suburb of Semaphore where an 11-year-old boy, the son of a former member of the Finks, was shot in the leg while he slept during a home invasion last month.
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Many Australians will be welcoming yesterday’s High Court decision in the case of The State of South Australia v. Totani & Another HCA 39 (2010). This is the second legal defeat of this unjust and draconian piece of South Australian legislation.
While most Australians will see the decision as a big win for the bike clubs against the money-wasting, selfish and bloody-minded South Australian Labor Government, from the United Motorcycle Council NSW stand-point it‘s just one more step in the right direction. We have to continue to fight until these hastily enacted and unworkable laws are defeated in our state as well.
There’s no doubt though that we are off to a very promising start. Mike Rann backed himself in the South Australian Supreme Court and lost, then with significant egg on his face took his war to the High Court using taxpayer funds only to lose there as well.
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I couldn’t agree more with David Penberthy’s claim last week that the National Press Club “damaged journalism” by giving a platform to motorcycle riders.
The damage is not, as Penberthy thinks, to the grand institution of journalism. After all, a profession that has survived, adapted and flourished over hundreds of years is hardly going to be scarred by the ramblings of a bloke from Blacktown.
No. The damage to journalism caused by Wednesday’s Press Club address is simply that the news media were not – at least for the 60 minutes of the live broadcast – able to control the public’s perceptions of bikers.
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What a sin! The National Press Club actually had the temerity to invite bikers and, an even worse devil, an academic, to address their members! After decades of weekly rants from pompous politicians and bloated businessmen they broke from tradition and dived into the dark side.
Even worse the bikers and academic questioned the wisdom of politicians making stupid laws. As if our moral and upright legislators would ever push the “lock them up and throw away the key button” just to win over the law and order vote.
But make no mistake the South Australian and New South Wales laws are particularly stupid. Forget about the blatant violation that these laws bring to the justice system and just think about their consequences.
The National Press Club has debased itself and damaged journalism by letting bikie gangs use its forum to indulge in an hour-long orgy of hysteria and lies about the proposed laws of criminal association.
Central to this non-debate - led by a fellow called Ferret, from the Finks - was the laughable assertion that the media somehow over-reacted in its coverage of the sickening bashing murder of Hells Angel Anthony Zervas in broad daylight at Sydney Airport earlier this year.
With a couple of exceptions among the journos - and with the audience heavily stacked with tattooed ratbags - Ferret and his friends were allowed to misrepresent this deserved coverage without challenge.
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Civil libertarians around the country have condemned my new anti-crime gang laws aimed at outlaw bikie gangs. Defence lawyers and pseudo-academics have lined up to tell the public that the bikie gangs are a harmless sub-culture comprised of grandparents who simply like a ride on big bikes.
Following the passing of our most recent law, we’ve seen demonstrations by hundreds of bikies from around the country converging on Adelaide in so-called “Freedom Rides”, an insulting reprise of the civil rights movement in the US.
But for outlaw motorcycle gangs, it’s a different kind of freedom.
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October last year was the beginning of a bikie war and my introduction to the characters of Sydney’s underworld. My assignment: the funeral of Notorious crime gang member and former Nomad bikie Todd O’Connor at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Along with a small media pack, I took up a close-in position for the arrivals, soon finding out that we were not welcome with a family member performing a one-finger salute. As the service began I managed to get some shots from the back of the cathedral of the coffin in place with O’Connor’s mother to the side, sitting wheelchair-bound.
After capturing a few frames, we waited outside till the coffin was carried out, usually the time of highest emotion. For this funeral, emotions lead to threats of violence. The Notorious foot soldiers formed a protective ring around the mourning family, facing up to the photographers, and hitting one snapper in the back. I repositioned to the other side of the road enabling a few frames of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim surrounded by his men…
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