4th July 2015
Hundreds of motorcyclists have turned out at locations around the country to protest anti-association laws either in place or being discussed in their respective states.
Crowds of up to 300 people turned out in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide this morning.
In Brisbane, the United Motorcycle Council of Queensland vowed to continue fighting against the Queensland Government’s anti-association laws.
The council held an independence day rally at Emma Miller Place to highlight their concerns.
It was attended by about 300 people.
The rally was peaceful even if the message was not.
The council is still angry with the former Newman government for introducing the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws in 2013.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has vowed to replace them.
“When Newman bought these laws in he thought we were all stupid, he thought the general public was stupid. He thought we’d just roll over and play dead. Have a look at us all here still fighting over a year later,” Yandina Five member Mike Smith said.
The Palasczcuk Government did not escape the criticism either.
“The judge last week when he adjourned my son’s cases said the executive of this Government have the power to suspend these laws but they haven’t,” Mr Smith said.
Despite the determination to fight on, lawyers do not believe the legislation will be overturned – but they are advising people not to give up.
“Unity is important. Support for the cause is very, very important. Especially for those who are, I suppose, putting their neck out and being charged under these laws,” lawyer Chris Main said.
Melbourne rally urged to unite against laws
In Melbourne, motorcyclist Max Iddles told the protest that bikies would fight similar laws from ever being introduced in Victoria.
“There’s nothing in there about bikes, bikies, bikers, bike gangs. They are anti-people laws. They want control of the clubs,” he said.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said in March that a national approach was needed to deal with criminal groups.
Dale Maggs from the Freedom Riders Association said bikies would stand together to prevent any tougher legislation that targets them.
“It has to stop and it has to stop now. We have to lobby hard and we have to be strong as a united group.”
‘It’s about the weakening of our constitutional protections’
In New South Wales, about 40 people rode their motorbikes around the state’s parliament house.
The Brotherhood Christian Motorcycle Club’s Greg Pendlebury addressed the crowd.
“These laws are wrong,” he said.
“They are wrong because they change the definition of crime – from what you do, to who you associate with. In doing that I think they make a grave mistake.
“Having a meal with someone is not a crime. Spending time with someone is not a crime. Talking on the telephone is not a crime. These laws take normal human interaction and turn them into criminal activity. They are wrong and they have no part in our community.”
The anti-consorting laws in NSW were challenged in the High Court last year, but were upheld.
Three men who were charged under the 2012 legislation mounted the challenge on the grounds they infringed the implied right to freedom of association in the Constitution.
The court found the laws were valid and there was no such right to freedom of association.
The court also dismissed claims the laws were at odds with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because that was not in Commonwealth Legislation.
Wayne Baffsky, a barrister who represents the United Motorcycle Council, said today’s protest “… is not just about bad laws, and it’s not just about laws which are counterproductive”.
“It’s about the weakening of our constitutional protections,” he said.
“People are being targeted for how they look and who they associate with.”
South Australian laws ‘would be unfair’
About 200 bikies rode from Port Adelaide to the steps of Parliament House, protesting against the South Australian Government’s planned anti-bikie laws.
The anti-bikie laws are currently before state parliament and would declare 27 gangs as criminal organisations, and add others to the list by regulation.
But the State Opposition has moved an amendment for a judicial review of the declarations.
Gypsy Joker’s Robert Cameron, who organised today’s protest, said the laws were unfair, but would support a judicial review.
“If that amendment does go through, yes we don’t mind, because that means you’d have to catch us doing something wrong instead of just assuming we’re doing something wrong.”