Crikey’s story “OMCGs: the real, lurking Australian terrorist threat” (29 September, item 1) did a lot of damage.
It was written by “a serving police officer with covert investigative duties”, who wrote: “The terrorist threat is very real and it lives just around the corner. It is that ‘rough diamond’, that annual participant in the charity Toy Run, that ‘harmless’ character who is sticking a needle in your child’s arm and supplying the truckie that wipes out your mate’s family on the highway. Also, increasingly he is your accountant or lawyer.”
Firstly, it’s a bit difficult to verify the author’s claims. We are not told what force he/she works for. I doubt the Victoria Police PR unit will want to take credit for this penmanship. Moreover, it damaged the credibility of people working for motorbike and scooter safety. It damaged the reputations of those who choose to ride rather than drive. It damaged the average cop’s reputation for fairness in enforcement. The OMCGs tale was clumsy propaganda.
If Crikey substituted the riders in his story for members of an ethnic or religious group there would be serious consequences.
In any community there are good and bad. There are around a million Australians with bike licences so the “…around 3,500 hard core…” bikies represents 0.0035% of our community! The vast majority of Australian riders are ordinary people, a cross-section of society. Police have an image problem, too, and the covert cop does none of us any favours. There are more than 50 Toy Runs across the country. Most of them could not happen without motorcyclists and police working together.
I’m 56. Got my first bike in 1967. Motorbikes have been my life ever since. I’ve organised 21 Melbourne Toy Runs for the Salvos and a similar number of Blood Challenges benefiting the Red Cross. Got an OAM for it. Hate needles. Don’t do drugs. I have no criminal record.
Through my work I’ve mixed with both police and traditional motorcycle club members. Generally, both groups have treated me with respect. Some years ago I was on the Road Safety Reference Group at VicRoads. A police officer was leaving. After the meeting I wished him luck and asked him what his future held. He said loudly, in a room full of people, that he was going to the drug squad to deal with the other 51% of my mates.
Now I don’t blame all police for that officer’s negative view of my world. I think Crikey’s covert cop has damaged both police services and the motorcycle community with this anti-bikie propaganda. Cops and bikies are mostly good Australians and they don’t deserve the covert cop’s bogus tale.