I speak about an issue that affects a number of communities across the State. I will primarily talk about my community because that is the purpose of private members’ statements. Unregistered motorbikes and unlicensed riders are terrorising our neighbourhoods and hooning around our streets. I must admit that the community that I have the privilege to represent has a long and proud history of motorcycle ownership. It would be difficult to find many families without somebody who grew up riding a motorbike—which, to be fair, was probably unregistered—between home and the bush. I do not seek to diminish the fact that such behaviour is illegal and should not be condoned in any way. However, unregistered motorbikes have historically been used just to access the bush and get home.
I empathise with those who live near bushland and understand that 100 or 200 motorbikes might go past their house on a typical Saturday or Sunday. But in more recent times the bigger problem has been unregistered and unlawful motorbikes that are being used to terrorise our streets in the middle of the night. It is clear that the riders are using their motorbikes for drug running. I have enormous sympathy for our police, who are essentially unable to pursue these bikes. Even if police could pursue them, there would be no point because the riders would immediately head into the bushland that surrounds the great electorate of Cessnock and be gone.
The unfortunate truth is that criminals not only in Cessnock but also across New South Wales seem to have worked out the rules of engagement: They know that if they are on a motorbike the police are essentially unable to engage. I have stood with police at community barbecues and other social events and seen motorbikes overtake cars on double yellow lines. The riders are not wearing helmets and have no licence or registration yet they stick their finger up at our great police officers as if to say, “Come get me, cop. I know you can’t.” This is a real problem and I do not pretend to have the solution. The reality is that unregistered motorbikes are a growing scourge in our community. They are certainly some of the more frequently complained about incidents in the Cessnock electorate.
Frankly, there is a sense that we are gradually losing control of our streets because these people who are operating illegally seem to know they can get away with it.
The drugs seem to enter Cessnock at certain points by car or other form of vehicle but the multiple motorbikes go to a single site for the distribution to take place. Then, between 2.00 a.m. and 4.00 a.m., they loudly zip off to various parts of the electorate, which leads to more motorbike activity in the middle of the night. It is incredibly unfortunate. I sympathise and empathise with the community and the police. As a member of Parliament, I am compelled to raise these matters because of the things I hear through my electorate office, in telephone calls and emails, and in social conversations with my friends, family and other community members. Something needs to be done to address the issue of unregistered motorbikes and unlicensed riders who do not wear helmets and are clearly drug mules.
I sympathise and empathise with the Minister for Police because this is an almost seemingly impossible problem to fix, but fix it we must. I have had some very good conversations with my local police inspector and with the Minister for Police. We all recognise that this is a problem and we need to find a way forward. I urge those in my electorate who are doing the wrong thing to take a different path. I urge those good and honest citizens in my electorate who know or live beside a person who constantly comes in and out of their residence on an unregistered motorbike to report them to the police. If the police know where these people live they can track them down. But mine is not the only electorate affected. We have to get rid of these people from our communities.