Bibra Lake: Rebels Motorcycle Club promises no anarchy at new clubhouse


Rebels Motorcycle Club Fremantle Chapter president Mark Rodgers and vice-president Kevin Lawrence.
Rebels Motorcycle Club Fremantle Chapter president Mark Rodgers and vice-president Kevin Lawrence.

A CHAPTER of the Rebels Motorcycle Club based in Bibra Lake has promised there will be no Sons of Anarchy-style drama over the coming two years after a recent win for the group.

The club is free to continue operating a clubhouse at a factory unit on Port Kembla Drive after the City of Cockburn approved a temporary “change of use” for the site on February 9.

It has been based there formally since 2014.

Fremantle chapter president Mark Rodgers said he was happy with the extension, even if it came after a drawn-out process involving State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) mediation.

“We’re all happy with the decision. It was a little annoying (going through SAT mediation),” he said.

“What concerned me the most is that they wasted ratepayers’ money questioning what was a permitted use.”

Cockburn councillors Steve Portelli and Lee-Anne Smith spoke out against the club at the council meeting, saying it presented a risk to residents and businesses.

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Cr Portelli also put forward a failed alternative recommending that the City refuse the change of use.

“I believe it is abhorrent to support any club that profits from crime,” he told the Gazette following the decision.

“Sure it is the State Government’s problem as well, but we should fight for our residents’ amenity and if SAT overturns it, then it’s on their head if somebody is hurt or killed as a result of their occupancy.”

Cr Smith spoke against her colleague’s alternative, but not because she was in favour of the club being based locally.

With the City having failed to secure a desirable outcome via SAT in the past, she said the cost to ratepayers was not worth the risk.

The City said it had spent about $32,000 on legal costs battling to keep the Rebels out of Cockburn since July 2013, with $20,000 of that spent in the past six months.

Advice to the City was that it was likely to cost about $50,000 to defend the application at SAT had it progressed to a full hearing.

“I totally agree with Cr Portelli that we have an obligation to protect our community and our community have a right to feel safe,” Cr Smith said.

“However, the reality is these Rebels bikie club members are not going to go away and we are not going to be able to get rid of them at a local government level.

“What we can do is approve the officer’s recommendation. We can maintain some form of control.”

Mr Rodgers said the club had shown it could operate peacefully from the site and it would continue pushing for permanent approval.

“There’s no crime. We just come to hang out here, like we hang out at a restaurant, like we hang out anywhere,” he said.