Marked: Bikie gangs are under attack.

Outlaw bikie groups will be the target of a new strike team combining the resources of State and Federal police and the tax office.

The $10 million anti-gangs squad is expected to be signed off by Federal Cabinet when it meets in Perth today amid intense political campaigning ahead of Saturday's Senate re-run election.

In an interview with _The West Australian _yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the strike team would focus on about 450 WA-based bikie members in nine outlaw gangs and 25 chapters.

"The police I've spoken to are convinced, absolutely convinced, that many, many, many years ago these bikie gangs lost any innocent social purpose they might've had," Mr Abbott said.

"They've basically become criminal conspiracies, criminal networks - prostitution, drugs, money-laundering - a whole gamut of crime over and above just random, spontaneous crime."

The team will consist of five Australian Federal Police officers and an analyst from the Australian Taxation Office.

Their brief will be to disrupt and prevent bikies' illegal activity and report to the $64 million National Anti-Gangs Squad that is assisting similar teams in Victoria, Queensland and NSW.

Mr Abbott provocatively suggested there would be a "degree of mutual reinforcement" between the strike force and the royal commission looking into union corruption.

The Government will use the WA Senate campaign backdrop to announce today $56 million in extra funding for health services in regional WA. The money will provide 17 extra renal dialysis chairs and accommodation units for up to 92 patients in 10 hospitals across the Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields and Mid West.

This announcement is aimed at countering Labor's focus on Budget cuts to health, Medicare and education, which is finding traction among WA voters, according to party research. Privately, Liberal strategists worry that Mr Abbott's shock reintroduction of knights and dames last week and Parliament's focus on changing race hate laws have distracted from the coalition's key messages on the carbon and mining taxes.

"What happened last week was entirely appropriate," Mr Abbott said.

"And the only people obsessing about titles are the Labor Party."

Asked if, in retrospect, he should have consulted Cabinet and his party before the sirs and dames announcement, he said: "Andrew, you're obsessing about it now. That's so last week, if I may say so."

Mr Abbott said the carbon and mining taxes were anti-West Australian because WA was the nation's energy and iron ore capital.

"They're not the only issues, I accept that, but they're very important issues where there is an absolute black and white distinction between the Labor Party and us," he said.

"The fact that (Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten couldn't give us a straight answer on either of those taxes when he was (last) here, at the very time he was voting in favour of the mining tax and the carbon tax in Canberra, shows that the so-called faceless man is two-faced on this subject."


The West Australian

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