Bikies have long been fighting police discrimination and resultant public vilification as the above 1970s Brisbane bikie protest photo shows, but in recent years they have faced tougher laws including even associating with them.
Now the vilification is stepping up as Tasmania and Victoria appear set to toughen anti-association laws.
Longtime motorcycle campaigner, Motorcycle Riders Association founder, Moto Guzzi V7 MK3 rider and now Independent Riders Group spokesman Damien Codognotto has written the following impassioned plea to Victorian Government and Opposition members which we have published in full.
We would appreciate your comments on this volatile and divisive issue from a sometimes equally divisive rider representative who believes this vilification could be the beginning of the end of motorcycling for all:
Vilification kills sales
The Hobart Mercury recently published one of many articles on how evil outlaw motorcycle “gangs” were. From memory, The Mercury wrote that there were about 275 full-coloured “gang” members in Tasmania and about 5000 nationally. Add associates and hangers-on to those with colours and there may 10,000 Australians in and around outlaw motorcycle “gangs”. The point is that the number of violent crims who ride motorbikes is way less than the teen/ethnic gangs doing car jackings and home invasions in Victoria in 2018.
Please note, not all patch club members have criminal records. In fact, there are a lot more police and X police with serious criminal records in Australia than bikies with records. But bikies are an easy target for professional, taxpayer funded spin doctors.
For argument’s sake, let’s say there are a million Australians riding road bikes regularly. In general the car driving public see them as bikies. So the 5000 patch wearing club members, who are not all violent crims, make up a terrifying 1/20th of a single sad and lonely percent of riders, unless my maths are wrong which is probable.
Tasmania Police are pushing for anti-association laws which cover a lot more than just bike clubs. The Tasmanian Motorcycle Council opposes the VLAD type legislation.
Now, by coincidence, on the front page of Melbourne’s Herald Sun on Friday, May 18, the vilifiers struck again.
The Herald Sun is I believe the second biggest circulation daily in this country. First on the list of the most vile and malignant creatures our society suffers was us! Bikies! That’s all of us in the public mind. I really resent it. And, nobody says a word in our defence. Not the motorcycle clubs (IRG excepted), not the RACV, not the VACC or FCAI, no one.
According to Victoria’s TAC, 80% of road riders are not in any bike organisation.
It comes as no surprise then, that in spite of the savings in time and money, especially when commuting, and the simple pleasures of riding in a great climate, young Australians are not getting bike licences. Why would they? They know from the antibike propaganda in the media that they’ll be judged to be in the same category with “terror plotters, killers, big-time drug dealers, child-sex monsters and other violent criminals”by family and friends.
Also, the cost and effort to get street legal on two wheels is another huge disincentive for young Australians. The Victorian Graduated Licence System was a disaster. There is no evidence to suggest the GLS has improved rider skills but it did hide enabling conspicuity legislation, including an utterly ridiculous lights-on law. It was 2015’s Trojan horse and our non-confrontationist, politically correct rider/industry reps dragged it into our community while apologising for our existence.
The world-famous Elizabeth Street motorcycle precinct in Melbourne had its last hurrah with the Centenary Celebration in 2003. The roads to the Phillip Island GP circuit are gauntlets of pot holes, wire rope barriers and police checks/traps. A highway patrol cop was quoted in a local paper before a Moto GP saying his troops were going to pull over every motorbike on its’ way to The Island. Real good for our image in the eyes of local car drivers.
VicRoads/TAC/VicPol run a slow, deliberate campaign that vilifies riders while increasing costs and restrictions. It’s been going on since the 1990s. It might be mass hysteria in the public service fed by a sensation hungry media. It might be planned? No matter. The results are the same. Reducing numbers of riders and a motorcycle & scooter industry that is NOT growing with population growth and new technologies. You can’t blame the industry. It’s done nothing … literally.
The golden age of Australian motorcycling is ending.
Do you agree? Leave your comments in the box below.