Riders and their representative groups need to become political and not leave the lobbying to a few sympathetic politicians, says Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm.
He has been a Senator since 2014, addressed the first anti-VLAD protest in 2013 and produced this video of his party’s motorcycle issues and drafted a motorcycle policy for the last election.
He also recently issued this statement that cuts through the nanny state attitude that demonises and penalises riders, rather than acknowledging the benefits of motorcycling.
But he says riders should not rely on him or other politicians for their voice in parliament.
An example is the annual Pollies Ride where politicians are taken for a ride on motorcycles. He says most of those who take part are already converts.
“What we need is to convince others that motorcycle riding is not only enjoyable but environmentally friendly and reduces congestion and demand on infrastructure,” he says.
He also cites the example of the Shooters Party who won a seat in NSW Parliament a few years ago.
“There was an assumption by the shooters and their representative groups that they didn’t need to do anything anymore,” he says.
“They believed their interests would be represented, but the reality is it didn’t work. They went backwards instead of forwards.”
“Most obviously thought they could leave lobbying to the politicians and they don’t have to do anymore lobbying.”
He says Victoria now has shooter representatives in parliament but the lobby groups have continued to stay active and vocal.
“They now have well-managed duck and deer hunting and haven’t lost anything at all.
“That makes enormous sense. You need people on the outside and the inside to maximise you’re chances.”
State lobby focus
The Senator says he is active on motorcycle issues in Federal Parliament but says State Government is more relevant to issues of road safety, transport and licensing.
However, he rejects the establishment of a special motorcycle party.
“Motorbike riders need to speak up and argue in their own interests in the way shooters have done in Victoria,” he says.
“They are not very good at doing that as they’re more interested in riding their bikes. They just do a lot of grumbling,” he says.
Senator Leyonhjelm has been speaking with the Ulysses Club and rider representative groups about how they can better lobby governments.
“The Ulysses Club which is the biggest motorcycle club in Australia had a policy of not getting political at all and I regard that as a serious failing,” he says.
“It’s one thing to not be part of party politics and not advocate a vote for any particular party, but not to be political at all means you are a victim to whatever the political system spits out.
“You should be prepared to fight for the rights of your members via the political and non-political process.
“Saying you are just a social club is like saying you can do whatever you like to us.”
The Senator says the rider representative groups also need to stop fighting with each other in some states and form a united approach.
However, he admits that it takes a lot of money for a good lobbyist.
“You can’t do it for free, but enthusiastic volunteers can make a difference,” he says.
He says they need have to know about the political system, how to get a parliament pass, who to lobby and even when.
“Knowing when Parliament is sitting is a good start. It’s amazing how many turn up to lobby and Parliament isn’t even in session,” he says.
- Motorbike Writer has no political party allegiances and welcomes politicians of all parties to share their views on motorcycling.