15 Nov 2009

Bikers gear up for ACC protest at Parliament

9:27 am on 15 November 2009

The Bikers Rights Organisation of New Zealand says motorcyclists from across the country will start riding towards Wellington on Monday to protest against ACC levy changes.

The decision to increase charges is part of an overall package of Government reform to reduce the Accident Compensation Corporation's claims liabilities.

Motorcycle owners are protesting against what would be an almost three-fold increase in fees for bikes with engines bigger than 600cc.

Under the proposed new charges, it will cost $257 to register a moped, $511 for a medium-sized motorbike and $745 for a larger one.

The president of the organisation's Auckland branch, Les Mason, says he expects thousands of riders to converge on Parliament on Tuesday.

A petition opposing the changes will be handed over and a meeting with ACC Minister Nick Smith has been organised, Mr Mason says.

On Saturday about 1700 protesters took to the streets throughout New Zealand in protest.

The biggest turnout was in Dunedin, where 576 motorcyclists took part. Another 550 gathered at the Auckland Domain, 400 protested in Christchurch and about 200 turned out in the Hawke's Bay region.

Auckland protest organiser Anne James says riders are very angry about the situation and ACC has underestimated their determination to stop the levy increase.

Ms James says bikers will continue to protest until ACC changes its mind.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff attended the Auckland rally, along with motorcyclists wearing T-shirts saying "Who's next?".

Mr Goff, who says he has been riding motorcycles for 40 years, describes the proposed increases as unprecedented and unfairly targeting motorcyclists.

He says bike riders cause less congestion, use less petrol and cause fewer emissions.