There is a growing backlash against the extreme anti-biker laws in the Australian State of Queensland. About 2,000 riders protested yesterday in Brisbane and mainstream pundits have begun to question the morality of the laws. In an Op-Ed page editorial published this morning, a mainstream and moderate Australian columnist named Tom Percy asked “Is there any real threat to society from the outlawed motorcycle gangs that makes it necessary for us to effectively have two sets of laws – one for us, and one for them? I don’t generally represent bikies. But over the years I have met quite a few of them in social and political situations. Contrary to the stereotype, most of them are intelligent, polite, law-abiding and have no criminal record.” Calling the authors of the new laws “politicians who peddle the paranoia,” Percy said that in Australia, as in the United States and Western Europe, “law investigation and enforcement has become a police and prosecutors’ picnic.” You can read Percy’s column here.
The Sunday protest ride was organized by Gabriel Buckley. Buckley has no affiliation with any motorcycle club but he is offended that the laws reverse the onus of proof onto those accused of being associated with one of Queensland’s 25 outlawed clubs. “Some people are being pulled over three times on their way to work,” Buckley told the assembled riders. “You can imagine why these guys are getting impatient with the government.” Travis Windsor, who represent the Australian Motorcycle Business Chamber, told the crowd the new laws were about “anti-bikie” hysteria and that they were hurting small business owners. “There are 1500 bike-related businesses in Queensland,” Windsor said. “That’s a $1 billion turnover and 10,000 jobs. Since these laws were introduced we’re losing $5 million a week.” There were additional protests in other Australian cities.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman was unmoved by the protest. “Anybody who is a law-abiding motorcycling enthusiast really would probably have a better Sunday if they went for a fun ride around one of the scenic attractions around south east Queensland,” Newman said in a prepared statement. “These laws are against gangs – gangs who manufacture drugs and sell them to kids, gangs that result in a whole lot of human misery in our society. Nobody that’s a law-abiding motorcyclist has to worry about these laws … they are tough but they’re appropriate.” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who supports the laws, said “We’re not talking here about motorcycling enthusiasts. We’re talking about hardened criminals engaging in – to put it bluntly – a giant criminal conspiracy against the public.”