The RSPCA is calling on the Queensland premier to guarantee participants in a charity motorbike ride won’t be hit with the state’s anti-bikie laws.
The “sick puppies” might sound like a menacing criminal gang but in reality they are the unintended victims of Queensland’s anti-bikie crackdown.
The RSPCA says the Newman government’s controversial legislation, which outlaws bikies gathering together in public, has crippled an event that raises funds for veterinary surgery.
The animal welfare charity’s Queensland chief executive, Mark Townend, says the annual Ruff Riders charity motorcycle race, led by racing legend Craig Lowndes, is only a week away and is struggling for numbers because of the anti-bikie laws.
“People are ringing us up and emailing saying they’re reluctant to join the ride because they’re frightened of being targeted and arrested,” Mr Townend said.
“We’ve done all the right things and informed the police and registered the ride but people are still nervous.”
Mr Townend, himself a proud Harley-Davidson motorcycle owner, has called on Premier Campbell Newman to assure participants the legislation won’t affect them.
“People need to hear it from him,” he said.
“Our assurances are not working.”
Mr Townend said the money would go towards the RSPCA’s veterinary costs, which have increased due to more complex surgeries such as orthopaedic and eye operations being conducted.
“In the end it’s all about giving animals a second chance,” he said.
A spokesman for the Queensland government gave assurances on Thursday afternoon that riders would not be targeted by police and urged motorcyclists to take part in the good cause.
“The laws only apply to members of declared criminal organisations and not the legitimate 170,000 commuter and recreational motorcycle club members,” the spokesman said.