Luke Jardine, 23, with his father, Tony Jardine, who is a member of the Rebels Motorcycle Club. Photo: Jay Cronan
Like many young people, Luke Jardine dreams of home ownership.
But he never could have imagined the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang would help that dream come true.
His father, Tony Jardine, a life member of the Rebels, had planned to sell his Harley Davidson to build a granny flat on his Queensland property so the 23-year-old, who has Down Syndrome, could learn to live independently.
The Rebels had other ideas.
Hundreds of Rebels bikies will descend on Canberra this weekend to attend a charity event to raise funds for Luke's new home - contrary to police claims the congregation had been a summit for interstate chapters.
Police had alleged the gathering had been designed as a NSW state meeting, hosted by ACT-based Rebels.
Police said the ACT's lack of anti-consorting laws had enabled the meeting and made the territory an "attractive" place to host bikie summits.
But Canberra Rebels member Wayne Clark said the territory had been chosen to host the fundraiser because it had been conceived and organised by local members.
Mr Clark said the fundraiser would include charity auctions and memorabilia, with all money donated to build Luke's dream home.
"We've got people coming from everywhere, not for a meeting, for a fundraiser," Mr Clark said.
"Not for a political agenda, not a club agenda, not a secret meeting."
Mr Clark said the Rebels normally kept their silence in the face of negative media reports, but decided to speak out after police made public statements that warned Canberra could become a bikie hot spot without the introduction of anti-consorting laws.
"Enough is enough. We normally keep our mouths shut, but we want to tell the public our side of the story on this one for Luke.
"The public have no reason to be in fear [that Canberra is a bikie meeting place]. We are here for charity, to raise money for Luke."
Mr Jardine said the support from Rebels members – who had already donated $12,000 - had been overwhelming.
"I read the paper and the police propaganda machine is in full spin, using this to try and bad mouth the Rebels. I was disgusted," Mr Jardine said.
"We've travelled all this way for Luke, because the local boys have offered to do it, and it's a great thing."
Luke, who has spent the past days visiting Canberra's many tourist attractions, has written a speech he will deliver at the fundraiser
"I wanted to say thanks to my dad's friends and the Rebels for helping me build my dream house so I can follow my dreams to be a man," Luke said.