Thousands of Motorcyclists Convene at Parliament
Protestors on Parliament grounds.
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An estimated crowd of 10,000 motorcyclists gathered on Parliament grounds today to protest the ACC's proposal to raise of levies on their vehicles. ACC has stated that the rises in fees are a response to "rising claim numbers and healthcare costs" incurred by New Zealand motorcycle owners.
The proposed levies are speculated to be nearly double the current fees. To view a release from ACC detailing the proposed increases please see the following link: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0910/S00193.htm
Labour Party Leader MP Phil Goff addressed the crowd, calling on ACC Minister Nick Smith to halt the use of "propaganda" that suggests motorcyclists are the cause of many traffic accidents and should take on additional fees in anticipation for future incidents.
Labour Party Leader Phil Goff addresses the crowd.
"The stats are crap!" Declared Goff. "These levies are not fair, and they're not reasonable."
Goff went on to assert that motorcyclists as a group are being unjustly targeted by the ACC, and that any group of citizens could be similarly attacked. Goff asked the question: "Who's next?" A phrase that quickly became a popular chant among supporters.
"Motorcycles use less fuel and take up less space," argued Kari Lloyd, a motorcycle owner and sponsored participant in the Herceptin Peaceful Protest Ride charity project, which organises fund raising rides to benefit breast cancer research. "This is a one-sided presentation (by the ACC). Their data is slanted and distorted," declared Lloyd.
Newly appointed Green Party MP David Clendon supported the sentiment of the crowd, insisting that the National Party "must know that we won't pay up and shut up," and that citizens displeased with the levy raises must "keep the pressure on."
ACC Minister Nick Smith, who spoke near the end of the rally, claimed to be "taken aback by the scale of the levy increases" himself, a statement which was met with derision by the crowd. Though claiming that he would carefully consider the submissions, demonstrations and arguments made by those opposed to the levy increases, Smith also conceded that "Some increase in levies will be inevitable."
ACC Minister Nick Smith.
"Motorcycle accidents are growing," Smith said. "There are too many. But I hear your message."
Rally organisers and participants maintain that their campaign against the ACC's proposed increases has only just begun, and that they will fight on to stay "shiny side up".