Bikies need not apply: NSW
TATTOO parlours have become the focus of a turf war of a different kind as New South Wales becomes the first state in the country to ban bikies from setting up shop.
The Tattoo Parlours Bill, which passed in NSW Parliament on Wednesday, gives police the power to decide who can hold and/or be stripped of a licence to run a body art business.
The bill states only "fit and proper persons" will be allowed to own and work for tattoo parlours and the message from the top is simple - bikies need not apply.
Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts said the bill was aimed at breaking the "stranglehold" outlaw motorcycle gangs have on the state's tattoo industry.
"This bill makes good on the Premier's announcement to get bikies out of tattoo parlours," Mr Roberts said.
"When tattoo parlours are no longer controlled by bikies, they will not be so closely associated with serious acts of violence such as shootings and fire bombings."
Historically, tattoo parlours have been at the centre of many a territorial dispute between rival gang members.
The 2009 fatal bikie brawl at Sydney Airport was linked to the Hells Angels opening a parlour in an area which the Comancheros believed was their turf.
Last month a police car parked out the front of a Sydney tattoo shop in an attempt to prevent a drive-by shooting was set alight.
The following week police raided every tattoo parlour in the state.
Mr Roberts said removing bikies from the tattoo industry would reduce rivalry-related violence as parlours would no longer be symbols of a gang's territory.
"Bikies will no longer feel that they own the industry and that they have the right to stand over and extort owners of tattoo businesses who are unaffiliated with outlaw motorcycle gangs," he said.
The bill passed through the Lower House on Tuesday night and the Upper House late on Wednesday despite a call for from the Greens for several changes.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge said while his party was in favour of regulating the tattoo industry there were "an array of deeply troubling elements in the bill".
He said the "remarkable power" the police commissioner had been given was unacceptable and intrusive.
He was particularly concerned about the authority police would have to search businesses, in the company of a sniffer dog, without a warrant and to shut it down if they "suspected" criminal activity was taking place inside.