Image: David Leyonhjelm
In yesterday’s biker protest in Brisbane, the press seem not to have noticed the speech by Liberal Democrat senator elect, David Leyonhjelm who warned that the Queensland government were creating the sort of moral panic that has been used against minority groups throughout history. David was the only politician who supported the right of recreational bikers to enjoy their rides without police harassment:
“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.” …