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Civil rights, not bikes or bikies, the real issue

WODONGA man Shane Smith got a taste of what Queensland’s anti-bikie laws mean when he was living in Brisbane.

The long-time motorcycle rider said he had never been part of a club in May — before Queensland introduced its controversial laws — he was pulled over and questioned on his alleged association to a “patch club”.

“I spent 10 years in Brisbane and mostly rode in charity poker runs for children’s hospitals and that kind of thing,” he said.

“I don’t have any allegiances to any club. I don’t even have a Harley — I ride a Ducati.”

Usually a solo rider, that incident prompted Mr Smith to join the Independent Riders Group on Saturday on their way to Canberra for yesterday’s civil rights protest.

More than 5000 riders — and truck and car club members — attended the protest at Old Parliament House.

Their focus was Queensland’s Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act, designed to stop bikie “gangs” gathering.

But riders’ group spokeswoman Cate Hughes said the problem was nowhere in the act did it refer specifically to the outlaw motorcycle clubs.

That meant any group was at risk of breaking the law.

“It’s not about bikes or bikies — it’s about civil rights,” Ms Hughes said, as the riders stopped at a Thurgoona service station.

“It could be applied to other groups, so car groups are worried and even footy clubs.

“If anyone in your group does something wrong, everyone else is done by association.”

Ms Hughes said while their “certainly are a few bad apples” in some clubs, such harsh laws punished everybody.

She said most riders’ group members were mature riders who had returned to riding.

They feared such tough laws would be applied in other states such as Victoria and Western Australia.

“It should a great concern to everybody,” she said. “We’re becoming a complete and utter police state with no civil liberties.”

Protesters yesterday presented a petition for Australia to introduce a formal bill of rights.