Motorcycle riders will have another voice in Parliament when NSW Senator-elect and Triumph Speed Triple rider David Leyonhjelm takes his seat next year.
The Liberal Democratic Party representative flew to Brisbane to be a keynote speaker at the Freedom Ride to Parliament House today.
The former Liberal Party member who quit over the Howard Government’s gun registration laws, said the Queensland Government’s Vicious Lawless Associates Disestablishment (VLAD) Act was creating a “moral panic” in the public over people who ride motorcycles.
“There have been moral panics about communists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, homosexuals and Asians,” he told a gathering of more than 3000 riders and civil libertarians outside State Parliament.
“In most cases there is an identifiable group of people who are vilified. They are singled out as a group by the police and, fairly often, new legislation is aimed at them.
“And nearly very time the legislation makes things worse and we all lose a bit of our freedom.
“What the Queensland Government has done with this moral panic is more troubling than usual.
“When it gets over its panic and moves on to the next bogey-man, we will be left with laws that can be used against anyone, to undermine fundamental liberties and damage the independence of our justice system.”
David says the LDP has quite a few motorcycle-friendly policies including the promotion of free footpath parking, no tolls, lane filtering, no front number plates and “refuge boxes” for motorcycles at the front of the queue in traffic.
“We basically want to create a positive environment for bikers, not a negative one,” he says.
He told the Freedom Ride crowd at Parliament House that the VLAD Laws created a very negative environment in which he predicted “a police officer will die”.
“If you are indeed criminally inclined and facing a mandatory 25-year sentence for a fairly minor crime like dangerous driving or fighting in public, and you belong to a motorbike club, you might as well go down for murder as for the lesser crime,” he said.
“The sentence is no different and there might be no witnesses.”
The Queensland Police Commissioner’s voluntary ride register so recreational riding clubs can avoid unwanted harassment by police also came in for criticism.
“These laws have been sold to the public as highly targeted legislation, designed to tackle organised crime,” he said.
“The Premier says police will not harass or intimidate law-abiding riders, but riders have been told to ring a police hotline if they want to ride in groups or three or more in peace.
“The reality is very different. Non-declared clubs have been raided, including the Vietnam Veterans, and there are numerous stories of innocent motorcyclists being stopped and searched without justification.”
He said the police and the motorcycle-riding public are on a collision course.
“And they wonder why nobody comes to the aid of police when they are in trouble,” he said.,
“I’m never going to help someone who thinks it’s ok to pull me up, search me and threaten me with jail if I don’t answer their questions merely because am riding my motorcycle in company with a couple of other people.
“If that’s what they think, they can lie on the side of the road and bleed to death.”