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Bikie vilification ‘hurts all riders’ – IRG

bikie vilification huts all riders

Bikies have long been fighting police discrimination and resultant public vilification as the above 1970s Brisbane bikie protest photo shows, but in recent years they have faced tougher laws including even associating with them.

Now the vilification is stepping up as Tasmania and Victoria appear set to toughen anti-association laws.

Longtime motorcycle campaigner, Motorcycle Riders Association founder, Moto Guzzi V7 MK3 rider and now Independent Riders Group spokesman Damien Codognotto has written the following impassioned plea to Victorian Government and Opposition members which we have published in full.

bikie vilification huts all riders
Damien with his Moto Gzzi and author Heather Elllis pose for his 2017 Christmas card photo

We would appreciate your comments on this volatile and divisive issue from a sometimes equally divisive rider representative who believes this vilification could be the beginning of the end of motorcycling for all:

Vilification kills sales

The Hobart Mercury recently published one of many articles on how evil outlaw motorcycle “gangs” were. From memory, The Mercury wrote that there were about 275 full-coloured “gang” members in Tasmania and about 5000 nationally. Add associates and hangers-on to those with colours and there may 10,000 Australians in and around outlaw motorcycle “gangs”. The point is that the number of violent crims who ride motorbikes is way less than the teen/ethnic gangs doing car jackings and home invasions in Victoria in 2018.

Please note, not all patch club members have criminal records. In fact, there are a lot more police and X police with serious criminal records in Australia than bikies with records. But bikies are an easy target for professional, taxpayer funded spin doctors.

For argument’s sake, let’s say there are a million Australians riding road bikes regularly. In general the car driving public see them as bikies. So the 5000 patch wearing club members, who are not all violent crims, make up a terrifying 1/20th of a single sad and lonely percent of riders, unless my maths are wrong which is probable.

Tasmania Police are pushing for anti-association laws which cover a lot more than just bike clubs. The Tasmanian Motorcycle Council opposes the VLAD type legislation.

Now, by coincidence, on the front page of Melbourne’s Herald Sun on Friday, May 18, the vilifiers struck again.

bikie vilification huts all riders
Herald Sun front page

The Herald Sun is I believe the second biggest circulation daily in this country. First on the list of the most vile and malignant creatures our society suffers was us! Bikies! That’s all of us in the public mind. I really resent it. And, nobody says a word in our defence. Not the motorcycle clubs (IRG excepted), not the RACV, not the VACC or FCAI, no one.

According to Victoria’s TAC, 80% of road riders are not in any bike organisation.

It comes as no surprise then, that in spite of the savings in time and money, especially when commuting, and the simple pleasures of riding in a great climate, young Australians are not getting bike licences. Why would they? They know from the antibike propaganda in the media that they’ll be judged to be in the same category with “terror plotters, killers, big-time drug dealers, child-sex monsters and other violent criminals” by family and friends.

Also, the cost and effort to get street legal on two wheels is another huge disincentive for young Australians. The Victorian Graduated Licence System was a disaster. There is no evidence to suggest the GLS has improved rider skills but it did hide enabling conspicuity legislation, including an utterly ridiculous lights-on law. It was 2015’s Trojan horse and our non-confrontationist, politically correct rider/industry reps dragged it into our community while apologising for our existence.

Melbourne's Elizabeth St motorcycle district
Melbourne’s Elizabeth St motorcycle district

The world-famous Elizabeth Street motorcycle precinct in Melbourne had its last hurrah with the Centenary Celebration in 2003. The roads to the Phillip Island GP circuit are gauntlets of pot holes, wire rope barriers and police checks/traps. A highway patrol cop was quoted in a local paper before a Moto GP saying his troops were going to pull over every motorbike on its’ way to The Island. Real good for our image in the eyes of local car drivers.

VicRoads/TAC/VicPol run a slow, deliberate campaign that vilifies riders while increasing costs and restrictions. It’s been going on since the 1990s. It might be mass hysteria in the public service fed by a sensation hungry media. It might be planned? No matter. The results are the same. Reducing numbers of riders and a motorcycle & scooter industry that is NOT growing with population growth and new technologies. You can’t blame the industry. It’s done nothing … literally.

The golden age of Australian motorcycling is ending.

  • Do you agree? Leave your comments in the box below.

  1. Damian comments are his views, and you cannot say he is not passionate, nor wrong. Victoria leads the anti-motorcyclist mentality that seems to exist across all states, but I suspect that most other states are not too far behind it.

    This article also conveys another side to the negativity against us

    and has anyone noticed the NSW RMS FAQ’s on the green slip refund? I swear that when I read FAQ13 a few weeks ago, it actually said that motorcycles weren’t included in the refund as 95% of motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents where “no other party could be identified”. Just checked it then and there is no mention of that statistic, so they must have taken it down. But that is also an example (on a different level) of the discrimination we cop.

    Mark, can you clarify when the Brisbane protest actually took place as in the photo, as it could not have been in the “1960s” as there is a Holden HJ (or maybe later) van in the photo, and they were made from 1974 on, so I’m assuming that the protest is sometime after 1974, but before front motorcycle numberplates were not required, which I think was August 1975. I make the assumption that the photo was before August 1975 as I assume most bike riders would have removed them as soon as they ceased to be a requirement.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      My mistake. I meant to type 1970s, but I have fat fingers and didn’t notice my mistake when proof reading the article. It’s definitely the 1970s and has been amended.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Sorry to double post again, but I just found the NSW Green slip refund reference to motorcycle accidents, which I just can’t quite believe.

    “In 90% of motorcycle accidents, the rider is ‘at fault’. This is often because there is no other vehicle involved in the accident.”


    so what I read was about motorcycle green slips in NSW not be reduced because 90% of motorcycle accidents were deemed at fault as no other vehicle was involved in the accident. Or should that be, no other vehicle was identified as being involved. Slightly off topic, but perhaps an indicator of attitudes?

  3. So, if shooter/fishers can organise a reasonably high profile political party, why don’t we, and not just some clown in it for the pension? I know we can be an apathetic lot, but maybe it’s time.

  4. Fear of the unknown is the wepon being used to strip bike riders of basic human rights. The rank and file have no knowledge of bikes or thier riders. They see TV shows like Sons of anarchy and believe all bike club’s are sitting around tables organising criminal acts and any charitable things they do is just a smoke screen. How helpful is this to our police and government officials who only need to show a Harley Rider with a beard tattos and a patch on Tv to recieve a blank cheque to thier department. When truth be told the only Crime The entire Australian Police Force has not been CONVICTED of is Impersonating a Police officer. Every Crime that has been hung on the heads of Bike rider’s (murder extortion Drug trafficking assault prostitution) the Conviction rate for police is significantly higher

  5. When questioned in relation to bikie crime, former SA Police Commissioner Mal Hyde responded: it’s “over-revved”. A comment not well received by the political puppet master graduates of the Jack Nicholson School of Diplomacy who famously contended: ‘Truth! You can’t handle the truth!’

    Now, I’m not saying all bikies are angels – pun intended. But surely this is more political hypocrisy designed to take the focus off of those in power – socially acceptable crims in suits and gowns. For details checkout the Kangaroo Court website. Or, just watch Parliament on TV. The same bullies, clowns, liars and cheats – some of whom don’t even qualify to sit in Parliament want to clean up bullying in schools etc. Surely a case of do as we say and not as we do because bullying is accepted behaviour in a robust democratic Parliament – isn’t it?

    If anti-association laws were applied equally throughout society Labor and Liberal should be declared criminal organisations and you’d be lucky to get a quorum in Parliament. Let the Witch Hunt start with the politicians and once they’ve cleaned up their act I’ll support a crackdown on errant motorcycle riders.

    It’s time for mass bike rallies out the front of Parliament with each rider displaying a one word sign and arrow pointing at Parliament… LIARS… CHEATS… BULLIES… HYPOCRITES… RAPIST… THIEF… etc Then, let’s see the police start enforcing the law – equally. But it will never happen because our democracy is based on George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ where ‘all animals are created equal but some animals are more equal than others.’ Which means that some ‘animals’ are less equal than others – especially if you ride a motorcycle and who cares about the 1% – if you’ve got the other 99% on side?

    Go to the Kangaroo Court website for more info – info the politicians and main stream media don’t want you to know.

    1. I agree that all the big players in the industry must come together with ALL mainstream clubs and independent riders and get their heads together.

    2. And what about some of those in uniforms who enjoy harassing people, bullying, lying etc. As for politicians look at what is happening now. Maybe all motorcyclists should get pollice checks and carry the forms with them. I know one person who should be banned from representing any club who was found with unregistered guns, is a stalker, and has allowed his young daughter to be photographed with an outlaw bikie club.

  6. I think it is time for all the larger ‘mainstream’ motorcycle clubs got together with the motorcycle industry and formed a united front like the bicycle riders have done. I am 63 and have been riding on the road since I was 17 and over that time I have witnessed the general publics attitude turn full circle.
    Motorcycling has a whole needs to counter the ‘rubbish’ that the Governments use to get away with taxing us to the hilt in the name of motorcycle safety. Not many people know that when the motorcycle accident stats are formulated, they include accidents on working farms, off road and involving quad bike. Apparently in NSW, when police do an accident report, there COPS system only allows them to enter that there was a motorcycle involved and no specifics.
    Also have you noticed since the ‘bikie wars’ have become news, there has been an increase in petrol stations wanting you to remove even an open face helmet and groups of riders arriving together at a venue ect getting a ‘cold’ response. In fact even our local branch of the Vietnam Veteran’s are refused entry into one of the RSL clubs on the NSW South Coast.
    Unfortunately, unless the ‘big players’ in the industry and the larger mainstream clubs, don’t get their ‘heads together’ we are going to be legislated and taxed into extinction.

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