The organiser of an anti-VLAD meeting says he has encountered nothing but grief from hotels where he hoped to stage the event on June 25.
The meeting will update the public on the effect of the VLAD Act hastily introduced last year as part of the State Government’s so-called “war on bikies”. Speakers will include politicians, harassed bikers and accused “associates”. And that’s where organiser Travis Windsor ran into trouble.
He says he approached a hotel to stage the event and they checked with their owners, Coles, who told him it was “too sensitive” and that he couldn’t stage the event at any of their venues.
“I’m concerned that the very meeting to educate people about the effect of the VLAD laws could actually contravene the VLAD laws. I’ve also had emails from people concerned about it. I don’t know what the answer is and no one does because no one can categorically say what an associate is. I don’t want anyone locked up, but the new reality in Queensland is that in a seemingly harmless event like this you could end up with six months in solitary just for showing up.”
Travis has finally located a venue at the Acacia Ridge Hotel that will allow the event to be staged. “Not only was the owner fine with it, he offered me a discount on the venue hire and has thrown in a lucky door prize of a ticket to see Jon Stevens who plays there a couple of nights later,” Travis says.
The event starts at 7pm and will feature people who have been pivotal in the anti-VLAD laws protests. “By hearing from all of them together, people will see how the laws have affected a range of people and what the response has been,” says Travis. “Rather than speeches, the speakers will have a conversation with the MC, to make it more personal. Hopefully it will be an empowering night.”
UPDATE: Librarian and mother of three, Sally Keuther, faces six months in solitary confinement for the “crime” of entering a hotel with her fiancé and one of their friends. She was to be one of the guest speakers tonight, but has pulled out for fear of being arrested. In her place, a friend will read out an address Sally has written.
Other speakers are:
Alex Douglas, head of the Palmer United Palmer who will discuss what has happened in Parliament.
Paul Keyworth, founder of the Motorcyclists Australia Party.
A motorcycle business owner to discuss the effect of the laws on trade.
Smithy from the Yandina 5 who were thrown in solitary confinement for having a beer.
Biker Jamie Evans the YouTube video sensation who was harassed by police 12 times.
A representative of the People Against Anti-Vlad Laws Facebook page.
Travis Windsor, founder of the Australian Motorcycle Business Chamber.
MC is Mark Hinchliffe, founder of MotorbikeWriter.com and organiser of the first anti-VLAD rally and petition.
“If the laws were taken to the letter, being in the same room as those people could mean we are contravening the VLAD laws,” Travis says. “I’m not happy that we even have to discuss whether that is an offence; it is just ridiculous.”
Travis says more than 100 people have agreed to attend so far. “But there’s been quite a buzz on social media, so it could be 300-plus.”
He says he hasn’t advised the police of the meeting. “Why do they need to know? It’s an innocent meeting and we’re raising money for charity.”
Travis is paying for the event, but there will be an entry fee of $20 which will go to the Chamber’s favoured charity, Motor Neurone Disease, and he will be running a raffle to raise money for the high court challenge against the VLAD laws.