David Leyonhjelm. Uneasy riders on the nanny state

It’s the pain and cost of a crash that should dictate safety wear for motorcyclists, not opinionated policemen.

I was mightily pissed off the other day when I heard a senior Victorian policeman interviewed on radio, telling listeners that it is time to legislate to make the wearing of gloves and protective footwear compulsory for motorcyclists.

There were two aspects that annoyed me.

First, wearing a uniform and badge, or even attending traffic accidents in which motorcyclists are involved, does not entitle anyone to tell riders what to wear. Indeed, it is not a qualification for anything except to enforce the law as it exists. The police do not legislate and are not responsible for determining public policy. As for giving safety advice, they have no greater right than our mothers.

Second, motorcyclists are seriously sick of being told they do not properly recognise the risks involved in riding a motorbike.

This involves the assumption that when we don’t wear protective gloves and boots if s because we are stupid and irresponsible, leading to the conclusion that it should therefore be made compulsory.

Clearly this is utter bollocks. It would be rare to find a motorcyclist who is not acutely aware of the consequences of coming off their bike. Most of us have done it at least once, and remember perfectly well the pain involved.

The point is, we accept the risks.

Whenever we throw a leg over our bike, we know that it will hurt if we come off, particularly without protective clothing. It’s our choice, and because no one else is harmed, we should be left alone to pursue what we love.

I am no different from any other rider.

My bike, a BMW S1000R, is extraordinarily powerful and capable of getting me into extremely painful situations. And that’s an issue, because I don’t like pain. I am very much aware of what if s like to scrape my skin along the bitumen. I don’t even like the cold, and regard heated hand grips as the best invention since soft toilet paper.

Most of the time, I choose to wear protective gear. In the summer I prefer a lightweight jacket and gloves. And yet, there are times when the combination of hot weather and heat from the engine makes even that uncomfortable. In full knowledge of the risks, I snip down.

I sometimes hear it said that such an attitude is irresponsible because if I am injured, I will be a burden on my fellow taxpayers (which obviously rules out a lot of people who don’t pay tax) due to our socialised healthcare system.

The shared cost is not disputed, but should we modify our behaviour merely because we have a health system that discourages individual choice?

In my view, the health system needs to change. If we are reckless or irresponsible, we should bear the cost ourselves. If health insurers are legally permitted to take risk into consideration and regard motorcycling as risky, they will raise premiums.

More broadly, as a society we must stop trying to force other people to conform to our idea of what is safe, sensible or responsible. The only aspect that should concern us, and the law, is whether others are harmed.

Indeed, we should celebrate the benefits of motorcycling. Motorcycles ease congestion in cities, use less fuel, require fewer parking spaces, produce fewer emissions and cause less road wear than other vehicles.

And yet when it comes to public policy, we are barely an afterthought. In the 173-page National Road Safety Strategy Review, just two pages are devoted to motorcycling. The majority of politicians and policy makers are not motorcyclists and share the common view that we are all mad.

If we learn to speak with a louder voice, this will change. Our numbers are growing, with motorcycling more popular than ever.

In most states, motorbike registration has outstripped car registration on a percentage basis for the last five years.

In my next term, I intend to seek amendments to the National Road Safety Strategy that reflect respect for motorcycling. I would particularly like to see the best aspects from each state (such as lane filtering and footpath parking) incorporated into the national strategy.

And I will do my best to encourage opinionated police officers to stick to what they know.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

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48 Responses to David Leyonhjelm. Uneasy riders on the nanny state

  1. Eyrie

    David, I agree. We need you as a voice of sanity in private aviation which has similar risks to motorcycling for its participants with even lower risks to innocent third parties.

  2. candy

    I’m just wondering about the medicos who fix up the injuries of motorcyclists not wearing the full protective gear, as well as then on discharge they perhaps lose time from work and families must care for them, etc.

    Basically all the consequences of an injury that may have been preventable?

  3. john malpas

    you are being logical. Young men are rather prone to “she’ll be right”
    i.e. young men enjoy risks which learned wisdom should rightfully rail against (not including the risks of matrimony)

  4. I wonder if the police would have the same attitude to DL having an accident as he previously expressed towards them. That was when he said at a rally that he would be happy to let them lie in the road and bleed to death. By any measure that was an extraordinary way to campaign for votes.

  5. What a lovely beast you ride David, I am impressed.

    I stopped riding in my late 20s under pressure from my wife and my own statistical calculations. Sooner or later somebody was going to kill me. Cops used to call bike riders TAs.

    I knew a woman who was a nurse in the head injuries ward at some hospital in Randwick. Horrors of beautiful young men becoming batttlefield casualties. Most of them would never ride again, and they sure wouldn’t be paying any taxes to pay for their vegetable patch.

    When a rider does go down, other people have to clean up the mess, insured or not. So when you get on a bike, you potentially leave the responsibility for cleaning up your mess to somebody else. If they are responsible for cleaning your mess, they have a right to attempt to minimise that mess.

  6. Eyrie

    Jeez, and this is meant to be a” libertarian” website and all. What a bunch of bleeding heart left whingers (intentional spelling).
    Aviation does have the advantage of being far more likely to simply kill than injure participants.

  7. Eyrie

    Janice, they are getting paid. Don’t like the job, get another one.

  8. Eyrie

    Friggin auto correct. Jannie, not Janice.

  9. Pedro the Ignorant

    If the motorcycle had not been invented in the early 20th century, and somebody submitted a design for a “two wheeled engine powered bicycle” to the current nanny state government, you would hear the howls of derision from one end of the country to the other.

    Vic Plod can bite his bum, as well. Mind your own business and go collect some 5kmh over the limit speeding fines. Dan needs the cash.

  10. Cannibal

    Basically all the consequences of an injury that may have been preventable?

    You mean like drug users that fill up emergency departments, ambulances and keep police busy on a nightly basis? Some motorcyclist with grazes and/or broken limbs will be waiting a long, long time for attention.
    Or, do you mean like diagnosed diabetics who won’t even take the prescription medicine the tax payer provides.
    Safety gear can actually be dangerous in some circumstances.

  11. yarpos

    “Aviation does have the advantage of being far more likely to simply kill than injure participants.”

    Actually Eyrie you are far more likely to survive a plan crash than be killed in one. Globally the survival rate is something 70%, we just hear far more coverage of the mass fatalities not the myriad minor bingles going on every day,

  12. Habib

    The concept of “mind your own business” is completely alien in this statist shitpot. I suppose if one peddles their arse to the state one can’t complain when the state wants to insert something unpleasant.

  13. Whalehunt Fun

    The point is, we accept the risks.

    Not true. What you do is force taxpayers to accept the risk. Force taxpayers to foot the bill for all the medical care for the fools, and I use that word specifically because there is no group more foolish than motorcyclists, except perhaps for people who shove their hands in blenders to see what it feels like. If all ambulance police and hospital care was refused for anyone operating a motorcycle then you can wear what you like. But while I am paying for your stupid selfinflicted damage to be repaired you will wear what I say, when I tell you to, and as high up as I tell you it is to be. Otherwise support the privatisation of all medical care.

  14. bobby b

    I’m a libertarian. I’ve owned at least twenty bikes over the last forty-five years. I currently ride a naked Gold Wing.

    I honestly don’t understand the rage and zeal of the anti-helmet, anti-protection argument.

    Did you get this incensed when they mandated seat belts? GFI electrical outlets in bathrooms? Meat inspection? Licensing of doctors? When they banned grenade launchers? When they made it harder to buy dynamite? When they banned Laetrile?

    If not, this just seems to be a strange line in the sand.

  15. Howard Hill

    Laetrile. From wikipedia:

    Since the early 1950s, both amygdalin and a modified form named laetrile have been promoted as alternative cancer treatments, often using the misnomer vitamin B17. But studies have found them to be clinically ineffective in the treatment of cancer, as well as potentially toxic or lethal when taken by mouth, due to cyanide poisoning. The promotion of laetrile to treat cancer has been described in the medical literature as a canonical example of quackery, and as “the slickest, most sophisticated, and certainly the most remunerative cancer quack promotion in medical history”.

    Who to believe? Just sayin!

    Oh and nationalised medicare is why they have the right to dictate what our safety regime is. Someone else is paying for the medical costs when someone gets hurt irrespective of their stupidity/thrill seeking.

  16. Nerblnob

    Does the “taxpayer” argument apply to footballers, surfers and anyone else who’s somewhat more likely than average to end up in hospital?

  17. a happy little debunker

    Gloves, helmets, adequate jackets and strong denim do not minimise risk – rather, they serve to minimise harm.

    Strategies to minimise risk includes (always on) Headlights, Hi-Vis and adequate Rider Training.

    ‘There are bold riders and there are old riders – but there are NO bold, old riders.’

  18. harry buttle

    Generally I agree with the points made, however the exception is footpath parking. spendv some time in asia where it is routine and you will find was swaths of footpaths blocked by motorbikes. the novelty of trying to get past them wears off pretty fast.

  19. OldOzzie

    What do you call an Australian Motorcycle Rider = “Temporary Australian”

    and yes I do have a Motorcycle Riders Licence, and did have a Triumph 750, but also rode around Sydney and Melbourne on Honda CT50 (stupid tramlines in Melbourne) in the 60s (cheap transport)

  20. Northshore Redneck

    We should ban high heels on women next! Err umm and for poofs, trannies, weirdos, former ADF heads too I suppose?

    The amount of time you see women going over on high heels due to dodgy pavement, you’d have to be crazy to wear them!

    And what if they trip on stairs in a train station and break their necks? We’d all be paying for their care so I demand that high heels are banned!

    Fuckwits.

  21. John Constantine

    4 wheel atv ‘bikes’ used as one of the most common bits of equipment in agriculture are firmly in the nanny State sights for regulation.

    I luv ’em, owned heaps, steadfastly refuse to use helmets/gloves safety gear on mine.

    The way that people that would never get on a 4/500 cc 2 wheel bike and go full noise feel that they can cut loose on a four wheeler is a worry though.

    A good mate had his sister sustain significant head injuries when the four wheel bikes capacity exceeded her capacity.That farm is now sold. Maybe panic, maybe design flaw in vehicle, maybe lack of concentration.

    Why do people do stupid stuff i wouldn’t do when offered freedom to do anything?. Do people demand to be regulated heavily because they are scared at what they would do to themselves if offered freedom?.

    Should i have to live a constrained half-life, a prisoner of the State, because wymynsys have an all encompassing need to be cocooned and handed regulated boundaries by Big Sugar Daddy State?.

    Is it a good deal for me to sacrifice the freedom i crave now, so i don’t have to pick up the pieces when one or more of my connected people are crushed by freedoms requirement for personal responsibility?.

    I just retired the four wheeler ATV and bought another farm ute, might get a side-by-side UTV to replace it.

    How can we get a population that can deal with freedom, when they are trained to live compressed, constrained and stacked in convoys?.

  22. Macspee

    Many years ago Nauruans (when they were still rich) went through a phase of buying powerful motor bikes and at one point I recall there was a death a week (the population then was only a couple of thousand) and in talking to the director of health about the problem he commented that since riders had taken to wearing helmets the survival rate had fallen. He claimed that he could often save someone who came off the bike with head injuries if they had no helmet but helmets often meant that necks were snapped and caused instant death or if they lived there was nothing he could do to save them.
    I’m curious about experiences here over the years – it’s not something that I know about but there may be experiences around.
    DJ’s comments are fair enough. society should not have to pay for the repair of injuries self-inflicted through dangerous activities, of which motor cycle riding is probably one of the least common or worst.

  23. Deplorable

    society should not have to pay for the repair of injuries self-inflicted through dangerous activities, of which motor cycle riding is probably one of the least common or worst.

    Exactly, just because you want to be a dickhead and jump off cliffs,take drugs, involve yourself in over the top activities that often cause serious and prolonged damage it is not the responsibility of the community to support your idiocy financially or otherwise. Instant death is not so much of a problem but life long disabilities requiring constant medical care is. Leyonhjelm just reminds me all the time why I do not vote for him or his party because he is just plain stupid. How many disabling injuries have been prevented by the introduction of strict safety rules in the workplace, if farmers were still running around in tractors without roll over protection just like the farm quadbikes how many more quadriplegics would we have.
    Freedom is one thing but just plain stupid is unacceptable.

  24. True Aussie

    And yet when Davo is injured in a motorcycle accident on a public funded road he will expect to be treated by publicly funded ER and like a typical ‘libertarian’ his ideology will suddenly disappear the moment it becomes a disadvantage. If Davo agrees to pay for his own highways and agrees not to pay for his own private ambulance and ER then he can ignore taking safety precautions but so long as he is using public assets he is required to take whatever precautions public authorities say are required.

  25. Habib

    Did you get this incensed when they mandated seat belts? GFI electrical outlets in bathrooms? Meat inspection? Licensing of doctors? When they banned grenade launchers? When they made it harder to buy dynamite? When they banned Laetrile?

    Yes.

  26. JB of Sydney /Shanghai

    Seems as if some people will only be content when the entire population is dozing in front of their TVs, watching Government approved content.

  27. max

    “When our friends get elected, they aren’t our friends any more.” — M. Stanton Evans

    When our friends go to Canberra, they are not our friends anymore.

    It doesn’t matter what their opinions are back home. It only matters how they vote in Canberra. When they have power, they reveal what they really believe.
    What they believe in is power.

    Gary North

    David Leyonhjelm think he is smart cookie, he is Attempting to reinvent the wheel.

    Any insurance involves the pooling of individual risks. Under this arrangement, there are winners and losers. Some of the insured will receive more than they paid in premiums and some will pay more into the system than they ever get back. This is a form of income redistribution from the healthy to the sick, but the characteristic mark of insurance is that no one knows in advance who the winners and losers will be. They are distributed randomly or unpredictably, and the resulting income redistribution within a pool of insured people is unsystematic.
    If this were not the case — if it were possible to predict the net winners and losers — the insurance losers would not want to pool their risk with the insurance winners; they would seek to pool their risk with other “losers” at lower premiums.
    The discrimination of groups and subgroups would occur according to actual group risks and the premiums for all groups would then reflect the genuine insurance risks for that group, and prices on the average would tend to fall due to competition.

    To put an individual client into the right group, the insurer has to discriminate according to various criteria. In the case of flood, hurricane, earthquake, or fire insurance, they would use regional or geographical criteria. They might use biological or genetic characteristics in the case of health insurance. They might use certain behavioral criteria or lifestyles: smokers and non-smokers, people who are occupied in certain occupations that cause greater or smaller risks, and so forth

    https://mises.org/library/uncertainty-and-its-exigencies-critical-role-insurance-free-marketv

  28. struth

    If a cop is in work hours he should not be commenting on policy.
    Full stop.

    Socialised health care allows total control of the population and excuses it.
    Health care should be privatised and premiums would be paid based on lifestyle choices.

    Not real difficult is it?

  29. struth

    Just another factor.
    Don’t put your money on the naked Moto GP rider.
    He won’t win.

  30. squawkbox

    Anyone remember when the Cat was a libertarian blog? Where did all these pissy little wowsers come from, demanding that everyone else live lives as boring and miserable as their own?

    And yes, I’ve ridden motorbikes for twenty years now, one minor accident and the amount of taxes I’ve paid in that time would cover more than cover the costs of quadriplegia for the rest of my life.

  31. Deplorable

    Anyone remember when the Cat was a libertarian blog? Where did all these pissy little wowsers come from, demanding that everyone else live lives as boring and miserable as their own?

    Tell that to the father of two who lost his life trying to rescue someone else’s kids in the surf because they did not obey the rules and were bloody stupid. Libertarian no, plain stupid yes.
    I bet the blokes wife and kids wish he had said f***k the kids they are just exercising their freedom to drown in the surf and exercise their stupidity.

  32. squawkbox

    Trying to see the relevance of that to adults riding motorcycles and failing miserably.

    Deplorable, I suggest you can do one of two things. Send me your address so I can inspect your household and make any changes that I feel will increase your safety and reduce your drain on the public coffers.

    Alternatively and preferably, mind your own business.

  33. Northshore Redneck

    Tell that to the father of two who lost his life trying to rescue someone else’s kids in the surf because they did not obey the rules and were bloody stupid. Libertarian no, plain stupid yes.
    I bet the blokes wife and kids wish he had said f***k the kids they are just exercising their freedom to drown in the surf and exercise their stupidity.

    So that brave bloke exercised his freedom to try and help. No good deed goes unpunished indeed.

    We should ban the ocean!

    What if he was the primary earner for his family and the state has to support them now he’s gone?

    We should ban bravery!

    Fuckwit

  34. kae

    You would have been impressed with the police woman on one of the “fly on the wall” RBT program who stated quite clearly that she’d prefer a 0.00 alcohol limit because any alcohol in the blood causes impairment.

    She was disappointed when someone was under 0.05!

  35. cynical1

    Simplistic bollocks as usual from DL.

  36. duncanm

    Mandate condoms for gays now!

    Sex police in every bedroom.

    After all — all those rampant STD’s not only cost the taxpayer money now, but are an ongoing health problem.

  37. duncanm

    Tell that to the father of two who lost his life trying to rescue someone else’s kids in the surf because they did not obey the rules and were bloody stupid

    What a stupid comment.

    Kids were reckless – possibly.

    Bystanding father was heroic – undoubtedly. Foolhardy, probably.

    What would you do in that situation?

    Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools – Harry Day

  38. Helen

    About 25 years ago I met a women whose husband had been injured in a car accident and was in hospital with brain damage (I don’t remember the details of the accident). She said that one of the biggest shocks was discovering whole wards full of young men with brain damage resulting from car and especially motorbike accidents, and the realisation that there was family after family like hers who had to come to terms with the previously unthinkable that would affect on their lives from then on.
    Her husband never recovered. He lived for another 20 or so years, unable to talk, walk or feed himself. Their children grew up with this as ‘normal’ life.
    So, where do the individual rights of the bike rider who choses not to wear safety gear stop and the rights of their families start? Why should those families and people who question the claim that individual freedom should take precedence over everything and everybody else be considered ‘pissy little wowsers’?

  39. John S

    Good on you DL – Live and let live!

  40. Tel

    Tell that to the father of two who lost his life trying to rescue someone else’s kids in the surf because they did not obey the rules and were bloody stupid. Libertarian no, plain stupid yes.
    I bet the blokes wife and kids wish he had said f***k the kids they are just exercising their freedom to drown in the surf and exercise their stupidity.

    So when kids voluntarily undertake a dangerous situation and die that’s “plan stupid”.

    But when a grown man (who should in theory know more) voluntarily undertakes a dangerous situation and dies there’s something heroic about it?

    I sniff a whiff of hypocrisy there.

  41. Chris M

    Well junkies and drunks can pay for their hospital treatment at a minimum.

  42. Pedro the Ignorant

    Australians are very obedient people.

    Mandatory hi-vis, gloves , boots and armoured jackets will be the law within a year and nobody will say a word against it.

    There are more safety Nazis than motorcyclists, and most people don’t give a shit about the slow and steady removal of their individual freedoms.

  43. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Well junkies and drunks can pay for their hospital treatment at a minimum.

    Self inflicted injuries.

  44. notaluvvie

    A little bit off topic but about cyclists of a sort. I’m a motor cyclist of yore and fully understood what it meant to be properly protected or wear, in a very meaningful sense, the consequences.

    As for those denizens of both the footpath and road (I am annoyed when I see bicycle riders on a main road holding up traffic when there is a share bike path right next to it; they want it both ways but nobody ever stops them as the police are too busy trying to work out the motivation of muslim killers and council rangers…well nobody seems to know what they do) I don’t care if they don’t wear helmets. However, if they injure themselves and they are not wearing helmets then they should not be entitled to any medical care paid for by either the taxpayer or health care funds. You take yourself outside the law, good or bad, and you suffer the consequences of your actions and decisions.

    Taxes are not paid as some sort of health insurance. They are not some sort of enforced savings plan. How arrogant to think otherwise.

    The same goes for international travel insurance. If you can’t afford a few hundred for insurance, you can’t afford to travel. It’s not the taxpayers’ job to bale you out because you wanted to save a few dollars and spend them on yourself. I’m sure the good Senator from the great state of NSW would agree.

  45. duncanm

    As for those denizens of both the footpath and road (I am annoyed when I see bicycle riders on a main road holding up traffic when there is a share bike path right next to it; they want it both ways but nobody ever stops them as the police are too busy trying to work out the motivation of muslim killers and council rangers…well nobody seems to know what they do)

    go read the road rules and get back to us when you understand them.

  46. Tator

    Having seen the stats on motorcycle crashes and knowing the breakdown of what sort of crashes occur, David is correct, in most crashes, heavy jackets and gloves would do little to protect from injuries as the vast majority of motorcycle crashes are when other road users cut them off and involve a vehicle vs motorcycle collision. Losing control and sliding along the roadway is one of the smaller number of crashes involving motorcycles. Around 60 percent of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the rider as they involve either a car turning right across their path or pulling out from the terminating road of a T junction.
    Plus there are two main groups of riders who have the majority of crashes not involving other road users and they are young men who have just taken up riding a motorcycle and have bugger all experience and middle aged men who have either just started or restarted riding a bike after a long absence from riding. People who ride continuously tend not to make the same errors of judgement that these two groups do because of experience.

  47. Chris

    go read the road rules and get back to us when you understand them.

    Excellent advice.

  48. Deplorable

    But when a grown man (who should in theory know more) voluntarily undertakes a dangerous situation and dies there’s something heroic about it?

    I sniff a whiff of hypocrisy there.

    The point is there is now a family who are grieving because they have lost their father and breadwinner forever because he went to the rescue of 4 children who should never have been allowed in the water by the parent. Commonsense and often rules are required to protect fools from becoming a drain on the public purse. I do not give a toss whether motor bike riders think they are enjoying freedoms or just don’t care for their safety the fact is the taxpayers can end up paying for the damage they may cause themselves just because they think they are smart not wearing safety gear. Dumb arse fools and many happy returns to you people of limited expression.

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