Riders have been urged to continue protesting and making submissions to governments to halt the further erosion of freedoms and civil liberties under draconian anti-association laws being proposed throughout the nation.
Independence Day rallies were held today (July 4, 2015) in each capital city and we attended the rally in Brisbane where the most draconian legislation of all, The Vicious Lawless Associations Disestablishment (VLAD) laws were introduced.
Although the roll-up was smaller than previous rallies and the new Labor government has promised to review the VLAD laws, riders were warned about complacency. The rally will be followed up with another rally at Roma St Forum next Saturday (July 11, 2015) at 11.30am.
MC Jasmin Ross pointed out that it has been 20 months since the VLAD laws were introduced, but those riders impacted most were still unable to attend public rallies for fear of being arrested.
She said the laws were now spreading to other states such as South Australia, despite the fact that, in Queensland, only one person – not a rider or anyone associated with a motorcycle club – has been convicted under the laws.
She commended riders to continue attending rallies to protest the unjust laws, make submissions to the government’s review and to use social media which she credited with deposing the previous Newman government.
Lawyer Chris Main of Irish Bentley Lawyers defended their role in the unsuccessful High Court challenge to the laws last year.
He said the High Court decision was not a total disappointment as it was denied because no one had been convicted under the laws. It’s basically a Catch 22 situation: they can’t prove the laws are un-Constitutional until someone is convicted, but no rider has yet been convicted.
“The High Court gave us an indication we are on the right track,” he told the hundreds who attended the rally.
“The High Court recognises that the government can’t just declare an organisation a criminal organisation. That won’t fly with them.”
Mike Smith of the infamous Yandina 5 said his family continued to be harassed despite the courts again adjourning the cases of his two sons.
He urged riders to lodge a submission with the government’s review.
“I put in a submission last week and I was number 369, so that means 368 people have already been concerned enough to make a submission,” he said.
Tracey Kosenko, wife of “Little Mick” of the United Motorcycle Clubs of Queensland said her family tattoo business was still being “extorted” by the VLAD laws.
“People are worried that if they come into our tattoo shop they will be arrested,” she says. “The motorcycle industry has lost millions of dollars.”
She implored riders to “put your protest in writing” pointing out that the laws were not just targeted at riders, but anyone associated with a club or with family members or friends in a club.
Electrical Trade Union assistant secretary Peter Ong confirmed that the laws also affected trade unionists and threatened the livelihoods of builders whose licences could be denied if they had any association with a declared organisation.
“These are some of the harshest laws we’ve ever seen,” he said.
Peter also had the best quote of the day, calling the Newman government a “stain on the underpants of Queensland political history”.
Freedom Riders spokesman Mark Pritchard said the laws also impacted on social riders who were harassed, banned from wearing vests in pubs, discriminated against, prevented from having visible tattoos and subjected to social profiling by police.
“I don’t see drivers in Clayfield being breath tested and licence checked by the side of the road for 30 or 40 minutes like riders,” he said.
Harassment was also preventing riders from riding and having an adverse affect on charities, he said. “You used to get 200-300 bikes on a charity ride but now you are lucky to get 90. Get out and ride, and go on charity rides and go to rallies,” he suggested.
The rally was attended by several undeclared motorcycle clubs such as the Saints, Sinners, Diggers, Celtics, Sons of the Southern Cross and Brotherhood of Bikers.
Diggers member “Muddy” echoed Mark’s comments, telling riders to “ride wherever and with whoever you want”.
“Free the Yandina Five” campaigner Marika Toivo closed the rally with a chilling adaptation of a quote from Hitler. The actual quote is: “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”
She also said that statistically there is more corruption in the police force than among the motorcycle community, causing the loudest eruption of applause of the day.