Don’t leave lobbying to politicians

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm

Riders and their representative groups need to become political and not leave the lobbying to a few sympathetic politicians, says Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm.

He has been a Senator since 2014, addressed the first anti-VLAD protest in 2013 and produced this video of his party’s motorcycle issues and drafted a motorcycle policy for the last election.

He also recently issued this statement that cuts through the nanny state attitude that demonises and penalises riders, rather than acknowledging the benefits of motorcycling.

But he says riders should not rely on him or other politicians for their voice in parliament.

An example is the annual Pollies Ride where politicians are taken for a ride on motorcycles. He says most of those who take part are already converts.

“What we need is to convince others that motorcycle riding is not only enjoyable but environmentally friendly and reduces congestion and demand on infrastructure,” he says.

Shooters lobby

He also cites the example of the Shooters Party who won a seat in NSW Parliament a few years ago.

“There was an assumption by the shooters and their representative groups that they didn’t need to do anything anymore,” he says.

“They believed their interests would be represented, but the reality is it didn’t work. They went backwards instead of forwards.”

“Most obviously thought they could leave lobbying to the politicians and they don’t have to do anymore lobbying.”

He says Victoria now has shooter representatives in parliament but the lobby groups have continued to stay active and vocal.

“They now have well-managed duck and deer hunting and haven’t lost anything at all.

“That makes enormous sense. You need people on the outside and the inside to maximise you’re chances.”

Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm

State lobby focus

The Senator says he is active on motorcycle issues in Federal Parliament but says State Government is more relevant to issues of road safety, transport and licensing.

However, he rejects the establishment of a special motorcycle party.

“Motorbike riders need to speak up and argue in their own interests in the way shooters have done in Victoria,” he says.

“They are not very good at doing that as they’re more interested in riding their bikes. They just do a lot of grumbling,” he says.

Non-political clubs

Senator Leyonhjelm has been speaking with the Ulysses Club and rider representative groups about how they can better lobby governments.

“The Ulysses Club which is the biggest motorcycle club in Australia had a policy of not getting political at all and I regard that as a serious failing,” he says.

“It’s one thing to not be part of party politics and not advocate a vote for any particular party, but not to be political at all means you are a victim to whatever the political system spits out.

“You should be prepared to fight for the rights of your members via the political and non-political process.

“Saying you are just a social club is like saying you can do whatever you like to us.”

Crowds at the 2013 Ulysses Club Rally in Maryborough
Crowds at the 2013 Ulysses Club Rally in Maryborough

The Senator says the rider representative groups also need to stop fighting with each other in some states and form a united approach.

However, he admits that it takes a lot of money for a good lobbyist.

“You can’t do it for free, but enthusiastic volunteers can make a difference,” he says.

He says they need have to know about the political system, how to get a parliament pass, who to lobby and even when.

“Knowing when Parliament is sitting is a good start. It’s amazing how many turn up to lobby and Parliament isn’t even in session,” he says.

  • Motorbike Writer has no political party allegiances and welcomes politicians of all parties to share their views on motorcycling.

4 Comments

  1. Politicians make the laws & run the government – they’re the ones who decide how many bike parking spots are in the city, whether crap roadwork around Glorious gets fixed & whether police are allowed to harrass motorcyclists.
    Saying you’re not politically involved means you want to bend over & take it,
    & some motorcycle groups do.

  2. Often people see dealing with politicians as a total waste of time.
    I listened to a few political speeches before and after elections; one politician spoke for an hour and sounding like he was making promises to do this and that but if you actually listened to what he was saying not just what you wanted to hear he was actually promising to do nothing. I don’t me empty promises I mean he was literally promising to not do anything except toe the party line. Later when that politician got elected he reiterated his position on doing nothing only with more pride and conviction having won. Later he announced how his promises were being kept and all these programs that he had backed were bearing fruit etc. the only problem with that is almost all the programs were already put in place and were working before he ever showed up and many were started by his opponents. He also took credit for killing off working programs claiming doing so was something good and would save money and that better programs would replace them despite protests and advice to the contrary and there actually being no replacements except in one instance there was a poorly funded pilot program that was soon to terminate as it was a study done by a university medical school.
    This guy is now one of our senior politicians.
    He’s just a lot better than most at ignoring you whilst listening stealing from you and making you think he’s doing you a favour and lying to you when you know he’s doing it yet sounding like he’s telling the truth.

    1. We have no government, but a defacto dictatorship.
      Until the population “vote” for a real dictatorship, or of course a true democracy, which requires a new constitution, any lobbying will reamain as pointless as a minority seeking right they already have, instead of far more serious concern such as euthanasia being addressed.

  3. In the past I’ve been involved in groups to strive to keep riding areas open for off road riders. I’d have to say the apathy from bike riders kind of left me thinking what’s the point? These guys don’t even care enough to turn up to a rally that was about protecting their access to state forests.

    The MA only seems to care to about racing and do little for the rest of riding public.

    It seems our quite individual sport, sees us behave like individuals when it comes to doing any about our standing up for our voices to be heard. The only time I’ve decent collective action was when the council closed the parting areas in Brisbane a few years, a decision that was quickly reversed.

    That said – though I am quite cynical, I’d get involved again in grass roots effort to lobby government.

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