|Photo courtesy Mackay Daily Mercury|
I've lived in Queensland most of my life, and have never had an encounter with an outlaw motorcycle gang.
That experience would be shared by most Queenslanders. I doubt many of us lie awake at night worrying about bikies.
The Newman government, however, have cottoned on to the obsession the media have with outlaw motorcycle gangs, and are milking it big time.
Big blokes with tatts, big black motorcycles, and fortress-like clubhouses make great TV.
Every night for about a week, the television news has featured a raid on a clubhouse. You'd wonder why they're not all raided at once, until you understand that there's more media mileage made out of stringing it out.
Our police minister says we will now all be able to sleep nights n the clear certainty that we are safe from bikies. I'm not sure that curing insomnia comes within the operational brief of the Police minister, but there you go.
I'm unaware of anywhere else in the world (including one-party and totalitarian states) where it's illegal to wear certain regalia. It was illegal to wear green in Ireland under the British occupation, so I guess it comes from the same colonial handbook.
You can also be charged with gathering in a group of three or more if you are a member of an outlaw motorcycle club. This kind of legislation is typical of one party states. Given the numbers in parliament, and our lack of an upper house, a one-party state describes Queensland pretty well.
Collateral damage is likely.
This article in the Mackay Daily Mercury describes the effect on the Vietnam Veterans' Motorcycle Club - a charity.
From that article -
Wolf believes all motorbike riders are being lumped in with the criminal gangs.
"It's not the guys up here that are causing the problem."
A big concern for him is being forced to remove his patches.
"We're Vietnam Veterans and that's something to be proud of and a way we express our pride for our country," he said.
"It's an insult to the veterans of this country if they try and take our patches off us."