I just heard a very ugly rumour that the Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Council (VMAC) approved in principle the purchase of 10 police motorcycles using money from the discriminatory Transport Accident Commission (TAC) antibike tax.
The TAC tax is now $56 a year and growing. The tax was supposedly introduced to increase motorcycle & scooter safety. TAC called it a "safety levy" like speed cameras are callede "safety cameras". Most feel it's all about the revenue. This is bad for Victorian riders and it's a bad precedent for interstate riders.
A fully kitted, male-friendly BMW police motorcycle would be worth over $30,000. Now I think there should be a lot more police bikes. I think there should be a variety of models and that police should ride in pairs a lot of the time and that ... but that's not the point. Those machines should not be paid for by an over-taxed motorcycle community.
I'm told the idea was approved by a majority at the VMAC April meeting at VicRoads in Kew. You are correct. The meeting was held in the same building where a draft regulatory impact statement (RIS) on putting front number plates on motorcycles & scooters was developed. VMAC members have to sign a secrecy agreement so these antibike measures hit as a done job.
Personally, I think 2 things have to happen before road safety in general, and motorcycle & scooter safety in particular, begin to move forward again. First. Our road safety authorities have to become independant of massive road building corporations and registration and licencing regulators. Second. VMAC has to get the authority it deserves and a budget akin to the tens of millions rightly put towards bicycling. That won't happen while the TAC tax is in. A bit less secrecy and more consultation with stakeholders would be a big help as well.
But VicRoads is a secretive organisation that leaks like a sieve. You have to ask yourself why it leaks. VicRoads was in the Melbourne Herald Sun again this morning (22/4/2008). It starts. "Abuse of VicRoads computers holding the personal details of 3.4 million Victorians has risen sharply in the past 5 years. But the state's vehicle licencing authority refused to detail the growing misuse by staff." Trust VicRoads? Apparently some VicRoads staff don't.
I also heard that X Victorian policeman and pusher of front ID for bikes, Ray Shuey, is a prime mover in this move to buy police equipment with taxes ripped off us.
I further heard that the Motorcycle Riders' Association (MRA) representative at VMAC, Tony Ellis, email@example.com , supported the idea. What! The MRA will hold a meeting in Melbourne one evening soon. The adjourned AGM. Secretary Ellis will be able to give you details. These are public meetings so riders who do not like the way they may have been represented at VMAC can go along and ask why an organisation, set up to lobby for riders' safety and rights, would be supporting a bike tax being used to buy police equipment. Incidently, MRA policy, voted on and in writing, is to oppose the TAC tax and strongly lobby for the tax to be abolished.
Now this story about using money ripped off riders to prop up a police squad, that desperately needs reform, may be untrue or inacurate, but, after the disgaceful front ID episode and with the name Ray Shuey attached, I'm not so sure. Anyone who can give me any info in this matter, please do. Anonymously if you like. Send it to PO Box 3091, The Pines SC, East Doncaster, Vic. 3109.
Damien Codognotto OAM
MRA Life Member.