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Rann Government uses police to stifle dissent

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The Rann Labor Government's heavy-handed police crackdown on the Freedom Ride by the United Motorcycle Council shows a Government prepared to sacrifice civil rights and taxpayers dollars to stem dissent. Mark Aldridge was at the rally.

I attended my 3rd South Australian Freedom Bike Run held by the United Motorcycle Council on Saturday the 28th May. The huge waste of resources by the Rann Labor Government again appalled me — showing it to be fully intent on stemming dissent at the expense of our civil rights.

Over many years, I have yet to witness any problems with motorcycle club runs; the many fundraisers for local hospitals or children’s charities, and the more recent freedom runs, are a direct result of bad legislation in the first place.

Police stop riders for the first time.

I attended the first freedom ride, which was a protest against state legislation whose sole intent was to remove our most basic rights: the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial and the freedom of association. The increase in attendance for recent runs could be considered to be a direct result of the intimidation used by the Rann government during the runs themselves.

Every road into Adelaide, where the run was to leave, was blockaded by large groups of police in something akin to a terrorist alert. Every rider kept for around 30 minutes in the many supposedly random blockades, wasting huge amounts of police resources and the time of innocent protestors. What was the result of this huge waste of taxpayers’ money? Nothing more than a lot of angry protestors; sadly, most these protestors revealed they were used to this sort of treatment these days.

Every motorcycle was pulled over, riders had to endure being videoed, photographed, having their license and registration checked, being questioned as to who their friends were and full vehicle road compliance checks. Funnily enough, we all knew this would happen from past experience, so it was all about intimidation.

The media were out in force, and the police presence was huge, along with the many unmarked cars with plain-clothed officers videoing our every move. This is the fourth time I have seen such a massive PR campaign by the Rann Government, yet when I approached this Government to lobby for one million dollars to clear our children with disability’s critical waiting lists, the money could not be found. I can see why!

The United Motorcycle Council did their utmost to keep the run both professional and keep the police up to date with the route of the day. Of course, the police used this to their advantage; once the various supporters left the city, within a short distance of the riders entering the Southern expressway – mere minutes after beginning their ride – they were led by police into their first ambush.

To achieve this, the police blocked of the entire Southern Expressway in both directions – including behind the riders – with officers lining the left hand side of the road for over a kilometre, their vehicles lining the right hand side of the road, and blockades both in front and on every exit.

This bridge is where groups of 4 riders at a time had to face over 50 officers on their own, to be checked for the second time that morning. The photograph does not capture the full extent of the police presence - you just had to be there.

Hundreds of police simply lined the road, every rider was checked again, photographed –just ensure they hadn’t missed any – and after more than another hour of waiting, we were again led on the ride by the erratic driving of the police escort, at times 60kph under the posted limit, which in itself was very frustrating and dangerous, arriving at the first stop hours late.

After a quick stop for what was now lunch, within ten minutes of leaving, you guessed it, was another massive blockade. Unfortunately, thousands of motorists had to endure the main highway to Victor Harbor being closed for this third stoppage — which was a “random” breath testing station.

As this point, it started to rain. Motorcyclists do not usually feel blessed by bad weather and rain, but in this case it was indeed a blessing, as the police had to pack up and go home under occupational health and safety rules. This was so important to those who attended, because once the media and their helicopters depart after lunch, it is then that the police get nasty, issuing trumped up fines and defects to one and all.

It seems the Rann government is still trying to sell their failed legislative attacks on our rights. Unfortunately for them, they have been unable to come up with a better sell than simply labelling of all bikers as criminals, and their legislation as “anti-biker” — not that the legislation (SOCCA) even contains the word “biker”, as if somehow a person’s choice of transportation determines their every action!

Mr Rann underestimates the intelligence of the South Australian people. They can see hundreds of police and millions of wasted taxpayer dollars chasing the “boogie man” for no tangible reason, with no results, and with his legislation failing in our both the Supreme and High Courts, for which the Rann Labor Government has wasted many millions of our tax dollars. Indeed, one of the bike clubs was even awarded a handsome settlement, from taxpayer money, compliments of Mr Rann’s arrogance.

Mr Rann makes a habit of labeling all bikers criminals, yet the only criminal actions found during these protests were the attack on people’s rights and the huge diversion of taxpayer money on a failing PR campaign.

The media in South Australia, as usual,  made the whole ordeal sound like the riders were to blame for the road closures and colossal use of resources, but those who witnessed any part of the day, know the truth.

The Rann Government wasted millions of dollars worth of police resources trying to stop a peaceful protest in Adelaide. Mark Aldridge comments.

Every South Australian deserves the right to a fair trial, to be awarded the presumption of innocence, the freedom to associate with whom they choose and to know that our hard-earned tax dollars be spent in our best interests, where every person has the right to take part in peaceful protests.

I feel for our police services. I can’t imagine how it feels to study hard to pass through the police academy with the hope of upholding the law and protecting the community, only to find they are employed to stem dissent and raise government revenue.

The Rann Labor government wastes far too much money on their mighty spin machine, as if winning elections is more important than serving the electorate. The people must take a stand against this corrupt Government as soon as possible.  
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