30 July 2020

Probing the polls: Bikie laws and childhood bike rides

| Genevieve Jacobs
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The BMX course created by local kids in Tim Gavels’ neighbourhood. Photo: Tim Gavel.

It was a huge news week in Canberra as we grappled with the horrific alleged stabbing of the Canberra Comancheros chief in a crowded Civic venue.

It’s been a traumatic event all round, prompting renewed discussion about the Liberals’ call for anti-consorting laws to target outlaw motorcycle gangs. The ACT Government has always strenuously resisted these, pointing out estimates that there are as few as 30 bikie gang members across the entire jurisdiction and that attempts to impose this kind of legislation often has unintended consequences.

Steven Bailey advised: “Cool heads, friends. I’m not sure if everyone understands the implications of such a proposal. Freedom of association is a fundament tenet of a liberal democracy. Take it away, and you take away part of our democracy. Once you lose it, you won’t get it back. There’s one sure way to stop all crime, and that’s just to live in a police state.”

But bj_ACT thought: “Clearly the existing motorcycle gang laws are not working in Canberra. Surely there’s a compromise that can tighten the laws but maintain reasonable freedoms.”

Lee McDowall responded: “Muppets that run the ACT are too scared to ban these thugs from the ACT as other states have.”

We asked, Do we need anti-consorting laws to control bikie crime? and 654 of you responded.

Your choices were to vote No, it’s overkill and the situation doesn’t merit the changes. That attracted 28 per cent of the total, or 185 votes.

Alternatively, you could vote Yes, they’d control the risk of organised criminal activity. That received a substantial majority of the votes, 72 per cent of the whole, or 469 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about the freedoms of childhood and whether we’ve lost the simple capacity for kids to make their own fun. Tim Gavel has written about the kids in his neighbourhood who have built their own bike jumps in the park.

“The dirt mounds that are the foundation of their bike jumps were built by carting dirt in wheelbarrows from a neighbour’s front yard. Effectively they have created their own mini BMX circuit,” he says.

The jumps don’t impede anyone’s progress through the park and the kids’ hard work carting the soil has resulted in hours of fun during lockdown.

But now the kids involved in building the bike circuit in Ainslie are door-knocking, asking residents to sign a petition to stop the ACT Government from knocking down their homemade facility.

Plenty of you think that kids should be kids, and that an unfettered childhood is a valuable thing. But is there also an argument that these things sound great until someone is injured and there is nobody to take responsibility.

Our question is:

Should locals kids be allowed to make their own fun without a supervising government hand?

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The responsible adult goes with their kids to see whether they need to supervised on the jumps. The responsible adult lets their kids take risks so that they gain confidence and resiliance. The responsible adult accepts that sometimes kids have accidents and help the kids to become stronger and wiser through these times.

“Plenty of you think that kids should be kids, and that an unfettered childhood is a valuable thing. But is there also an argument that these things sound great until someone is injured and there is nobody to take responsibility.”

There’s generally someone responsible – in this case the kids and/or their parents. It’s just that they don’t want to take that responsibility, and they always want someone else to pay – preferably the ones with the deepest pockets.

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