I want to clear something up.
There is STILL this ridiculous misconception some people have that BRONZ sold them out in regards the ACC Levy Hikes of 2009 – 2010 and the creation of the MSAC and its 30 dollar levy.
Let me start with a disclaimer. While I was President of BRONZ Wellington and Spokesperson for the Federation 2009 – 2012 and a committee member until 2013, I am in no way a representative or anyone who can speak on BRONZ’s behalf anymore. I am merely a card carrying member, no S000001.
In 2008 the National Government took power off the ‘nanny state’ Labour govt. In early 2009 they announced changes to ACC, they claimed Labour had run the country broke (20b overseas debt the lowest in decades and 3 surplus budgets in a row – Tui anyone?) and that ACC was BROKE, in DESPERATE FINANCIAL CRISIS. That was utter horseshit. ACC was in fine shape with 5 billion in operational funds but an overnight change from pay as you go to pre-funded meant with clever bookwork they manufactured a 3 million dollar shortfall.
When Nick Smith announced across the board levy hikes Bikers were singled out as the cause of all the financial distress in regards Motoring Account ‘shortfalls’. Again this was manufactured and based on pre-funding with 15 years to achieve the operational balance to get to the ‘required target’ and those dirty leather clad Bikers were the ones who had to pay up.
Nick and the ACC chair at the time had a public press conference claiming each and every motorcyclist was being subsidized by Car owners, to the tune of 800$ per year for each biker. Mike Noon of AA chimed in claiming the real figure was 1500$ per motorcyclist and that was unfair on AA’s members (never mind 30% of AA members also had Motorcycles the prick). On an economy of scale, with 4 million cars and 200,000 or so registered bikes, it is true we the bikers were cross subsidized, but not by just car owners, but vans, trucks, all road vehicles included. This is no issue in a no fault no blame assurance scheme, it was true but the actual figure was not clear, no matter what way you calculated it. Noon and Smith and the ACC chair were throwing Bikers under a bus to get public opinion onside to rape us financially.
The initial press releases by Smith and Noon were used for Smith to try get the public onside with them and make Smith out to be ‘fair and reasonable’ by Smith claiming ‘oh we won’t make them pay all of that, but a hike of around 800$ per registered bike is expected’. ACC levy’s on bikes had risen by 110$ only 15 months prior to this under the previous government, and they were now going to put 800$ more on the bill! And no discount if you had any other vehicles contributing, nor any consideration you can only ride ONE bike at a time! This would have made bike registration about 1100$ per bike.
The outrage was immediate, and not just from bikers. My best mate Byron (now BRONZ Wellington President) texted me ‘you arrange the protest, I will be there’. Kiwibiker website forum lit up, and immediately the general biker public, almost none of them financial members of BRONZ (as I wasn’t at the time either) demanding action, wanting to know what BRONZ was going to do about it.
Les Mason, the President of BRONZ Auckland and nominally at the time, National President by proxy of this fact, was quick to start the wheels rolling. The recent HIKOI over foreshore issues inspired the name BIKOI for a National Protest Ride was born. To where … it had to be to Parliament.
I put my hand up to help in Wellington, and regional coordinators volunteered and convoy locations were arranged. I requested access to parliament after a Kiwibiker Poll chose my 40th birthday as the date, and this all took months of planning. Road action plans were made with the Police, parking plans and street actions with the Council, meetings with Parliament Security, arranging access and parking for thousands of bikes at Westpac Stadium (approx. 6000 rode in and out of Wellington that day). I ended up being the main organiser, with press interviews, arranging speakers, setting schedules, getting toilets for the parking area, sponsorship from bike shops etc. All the other coordinators, and BRONZ Auckland (the main organising body at the wider public’s request) asked me to MC the event as I had done so much work on it. I was humbled, and on the day managed to step up and not fall over the mic cord thank god!
Les Mason led a coalition of 12 representatives from all the main bike clubs and groups like WIMA, Ulysses, HOG, admins from Kiwibiker who were well respected no shit Sherlock’s with knowledge of Motorcycle Safety and such, and even a professional bike trainer and a representative from the Retail industry! THAT is who negotiated with the Minister of ACC folks, NOT JUST BRONZ. 12 carefully, evenly, openly selected representatives of your Biker Community, led by BRONZ only in name.
Les was the primary spokesperson to the crowd from the 12 disciples, backed by every single main group out there with large public memberships. This was led by BRONZ but it was not totally a BRONZ event, it was 8 organisations, a public Biker Forum, and about 9000 attendees with approximately 6000 rolling bikes. It was epic, and best of all we got in, and out, with no crashes, no events and no fatalities. One poor bugger got wiped out near Wanganui hours after leaving Wellington, but that was not in the convoy event, I hope he recovered ok.
Ulysses National Secretary represented them but their National President of the time pissed off to Singapore, he had publicly stated ‘do not count on the BIKOI, we have to negotiate and work with the Government on this’ and he was adamant our National Ride was going to be a disaster with bikers down all over the place, he actually said there would be deaths, and it was a ‘stupid idea’ publicly to many people. He was WRONG! Didn’t stop him getting off the plane, bee-lining to parliament and claiming credit for ‘bringing 5000 bikes to Parliament, they better listen’ with a TV1 news crew, the hypocrite. He had NOTHING to do with it he left it to other members like Ken Wilson and Howard the National Secretary…. Meantime he negotiated the 30$ ring-fenced fee in the background, one of the MOST unpopular additions to the ACC model there is to date, and he is now Deputy Chair of said council with a nice salary to attend half a dozen meetings per year. BRONZ was present in the formation of that council and its initial members, in the form of me but I was soon kicked out for refusing to tow the party line and actually informing Bikers what was going on, refusing to be gagged but that’s a different story.
So now that is the history. Here’s the point of my blog today.
BRONZ DID NOT SELL YOU OUT.
BRONZ initiated the protest action that resulted in the levy being raised by 178$, to reach what it is now. 527$ for 12 months Registration and ACC levy combined, which includes the very controversial 30$ ‘ring-fenced’ Safety Levy that feeds the pigs drinking at its trough for the last 5 years…delivering nothing of value.
BRONZ could actually claim to have saved you all over 500$ per year! But instead of hollering from the rooftops has kept diligently working in the background with OIA’s, I was removed from the council (MSAC) by Gareth Morgan because I refused to be gagged (yet they allowed the AA rep to continue posting in public, my inclusion was merely to try GAG BRONZ, it failed, I refused to be gagged)
Today, a friend I hold very highly as an IT professional in the industry I work in, stated on Facebook that ‘BRONZ sold us down the river’…. I want to know HOW?
BRONZ had no say in what the levy got set to. In fact had they not initiated, led, and organised a National Protest ride it would have gone uncontested to well over 1000$ per bike, FACT!
Want to research that yourself? Search it out on Google, go back and read Nick Smiths press releases pre BIKOI. Check the links on Kiwibiker to the TV One playbacks. For once I am not going to link the evidence and the TV soundbites, but you can find then all linked via Kiwibiker Forum. You can find speeches on Youtube, you can see the crowd on the day sing me Happy Birthday proving what high spirits the 9000+ crowd were in on November 17 2009.
At the Backbencher pub 30 minutes after the event BRONZ asked myself, Byron Cummins, and Paul Ellen to re- open a branch in Wellington and keep pressure on Parliament, which we did. I was nominated Branch President, and as a result got invited by Nick Smith to be on the MSAC Steering Committee and the Council (in hindsight a bad move it fed the BRONZ sold us out myth)
BRONZ sweated, bled, shed tears, and its leadership sacrificed at great lengths for the NZ Biker Public on this cause. The levy’s were set by the Government, NOT BRONZ. BRONZ’s actions resulted in a huge reduction of what was proposed.
I repeat, I am no longer in the organisation as any sort of representative, but will take my pride in that achievement to my grave knowing damn well we did all we could, we did it selflessly, at great personal expense, (in my case a marriage, and my career in public service for several years) and without having done what we did you, my fellow riders who keep bashing BRONZ as sellouts, would have sold your bike in disgust, which is what the gubbermint wanted to happen.
Now don’t start me on free parking in Wellington City…THAT campaign led to me stepping down as President after a reporter fucked us over but that’s a different story altogether, suffice to say we ended up with a guarantee of 500 free bike spaces…for now…and BRONZ meets the council every 6 months to ensure it stays that way…no one else does it.
So stop bashing the hard working BRONZ executive they give up time, energy, money and major portions of their private lives to represent you lot…and you whinging bastards abuse them, blame them, and claim they sold you out. How about paying the 20$ per annum fee, joining up, and working WITH BRONZ to help them achieve more? Think you can do better? Think YOU can change the world in the face of a hostile anti biker government?
Go ahead. MAG are trying as well, and doing a great job with what they are doing to.
Instead of abusing those who had the BALLS to stand up and do the work, how about fuckin supporting them?