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Anti-bikie laws blamed for demise of flood relief event

NO GO: Jim Abra (right) organiser of a charity motorcycle ride from Newcastle to Amberley RAAF Base in 2012. Jim is joined by Simon Wickson from the RAAF, Chris Rossington and Salvation Army members Bruce Dobbie and Greg Pack.
NO GO: Jim Abra (right) organiser of a charity motorcycle ride from Newcastle to Amberley RAAF Base in 2012. Jim is joined by Simon Wickson from the RAAF, Chris Rossington and Salvation Army members Bruce Dobbie and Greg Pack. Rob Williams

INNOCENT motorbikers have pulled out of a charity ride for Lockyer Valley flood victims, fearful of unwanted police attention under the Newman Government's bikie crackdown.

Three years ago, Newcastle Harley Davidson owner Jim Abra and his mates outstretched a helping hand to the Lockyer Valley communities devastated by the 2011 floods.

Mr Abra and around 70 riders were due to arrive in Ipswich over the weekend for the annual ride, which has raised $10,000 for the Salvation Army flood appeal.

Last year, the Newman Government introduced laws forbidding three or more members of criminal gangs to congregate after a spate of bikie gang violence.

Now the majority of the Ipswich-based bikers from Ulysses clubs have pulled out of this year's run, fearing police will target them in a case of mistaken identity.

But a spokesperson for Police Minister Jack Dempsey said the bikers have no reason to fear police.

Mr Abra said despite Warwick police giving the ride the all-clear, it wasn't enough for worried bikers to hit the road.

 

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"We had some that were coming and we got to the stage where they said we don't want to ride to NSW because they are crushing bikes and arresting people," he said.

"These people weren't a criminal organisation, they were actual riders and they were worried that they had been harassed since the laws came out.

"The people that miss out are the people of Grantham and the Lockyer Valley that lost family and possessions in 2011."

Mr Dempsey's spokesperson said law- abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the new laws.

"The Minister and Police Commissioner have met and will continue to meet with law-abiding recreational motorcycle riders to discuss these laws," the spokesperson said.

Ipswich West MP Sean Choat said the new laws were tough, but innocent bikers should not fear them.

"There will no doubt be some people who have been caught up, just like we all get pulled over for random breath tests, the thing is if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear just as if you're pulled over for an RBT you're fine if you're under the limit," he said.

"Riding a motorcycle does not make you a criminal but your membership of a criminal gang will get you into trouble.

"I have faith in our police and I know they will be fair and only detain someone where they believe there is justification."

Topics:  bikie crackdown, editors picks, fundraiser, ulysses club lockyer valley branch




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