NEWCASTLE tattoo parlour owners are outraged by the introduction of a new licensing system that requires them to be fingerprinted and undergo police checks.
Brad Bako, of Fat Ink Tattoo, has been an artist for 15 years and owned his shop in Newcastle for nine.
He said the new licensing system was treating all tattoo parlour operators and artists like potential criminals.
‘‘There’s a stereotype that the industry is being run by bikers when that is such a small minority,’’ he said. ‘‘We are having to prove our innocence at a cost to ourselves.’’
In addition to fingerprinting and police checks, tattoo artists and operators have to pay for a three-year permit.
A tattoo artist licence costs $699 and an operator licence is $2094. If owners operate from more than one location, they must have a separate operator licence for each.
Shane ‘‘Smithy’’ Smith of The Inksmith at New Lambton, who co-owns his business with NRL star Todd Carney, described the state government move as ‘‘a cash grab’’.
He said operators already paid wages, taxes, public liability insurance and rent, and complied with annual health department checks.
He said the fee was especially costly for apprentices, who trained for four years on low wages.
From October when the law comes into force, tattoo artists without a licence can receive a one-off fine of $5500, and $11,000 for further offences.
An owner can face an $11,000 fine for the first offence, and $11,000 a day thereafter.
Police Minister Michael Gallacher said the measures were part of a crackdown to stop outlaw motorcycle gangs using tattoo parlours as fronts for illegal activities.
“The new licensing requirements highlight the NSW government’s commitment to stamp out organised crime and outlaw motorcycle gang links to the tattoo industry,” Mr Gallacher said.
Licences will be regulated by NSW Fair Trading and authorised by the NSW Police Commissioner.