It is being billed locally as the "The Battle for Randwick City Council's Transport Soul".
Next Tuesday night (22nd June) highly respected Greens Councillor Murray Matson will go head to head with the absurd No Parking Meters Party Councillor Charles Matthews over whether unregistered bike riders are a subsidised danger to the community.
Matthews is running for the NSW state upper house on a hard-line policy that bike riders represent both a safety threat and an economic burden on the state. As if yet another crack pot, right wing extremist in our Upper House wouldn't be an economic burden! His position flies in the face of the mountains of published evidence that cycling provides huge economic and environmental benefits. Matthews previous achievments include chairing a Randwick Council Committee that awarded a Community prize to himself! The Council has since had to institute new rules that Councillors cannot award themselves such honours.
Matson is a former Mayor of Randwick who helped pioneer the annual Sydney Body Art Ride, a "semi-naked bike ride" from The University of NSW to Maroubra beach on the grounds that it
would help save the planet and raise money for charity. The event subsequently raised over $60,000 for the Children's Cancer Institute while generating positive publicity world wide, attracting tourists and highlighting the progressive work of Randwick City Council.
Councillor Matthews describes Matson as his "worst enemy."
On Tuesday night Matthews will be attempting to force through a motion that other NSW Councils be lobbied to impose a $50 annual registration fee on bike riders. The votes of the various councillors will be watched with great interest by the local community.
Matson will oppose the motion on the grounds that it will act as a disincentive to New South Wales residents trying to adopt a low carbon foot print and who are already sacrificing a lot for the common good.
Matthews has attempted to justify his bizarre motion in a number of suburban newspapers with provocative comments designed to garner publicity for his bid to become a publicly subsidised crusader in our Upper House along side other ratbag extremists like Australians Against Further Immigration, the Citizens Electoral Council, the Shooters Party and Fred Nile's Call to Australia. The Country Party, a small rural party with no ties to the National Party, has the chauvinist slogan "Australia for Australians" on its campaign leaflet. The Riders' and Motorists' candidate, Piet Baird, is a former ASIO counter-terrorist agent. It is quite clear that the right is making a concerted effort to maximise its vote in the upper house by flooding the ballot paper with various front groups in order to support the Liberal-National Coalition or Nile's Call to Australia.
The Cumberland Courier reports that Matthews has even tried to establish a link between bicyclists and violent crime! Cr Matson will attempt to find a link between Cr Matthews and reality, although no-one expects him to succeed. (Thanks Moz) The same paper outlines Matthews crackpot economic "rationalist" analysis of the community cost of bike riders. He claims that although a lot of money was spent getting cyclists onto the roads, they paid nothing in return. Even the RTA has rejected Matthews ill informed proposal.
Thankfully Matson has countered by speaking up for the bike fraternity. He said today, "The NSW bike lobby has been thrown into emotional free fall by news of the No Parking Meters Party motion at Randwick. Up until now they were used to being regarded as lycra glad urban heroes who went out and tried to reduce road congestion by dodging death every day on un separated bike paths. Now suddenly its' they themselves who are being condemned as the potential killers! Matthews has also added insult to injury by insisting that they should be paying for the practically non-existent bike paths that are actually threatening their lives."
Cr Matthew's motion to Tuesday night's meeting reads as follows.
"That this Council submits a motion to the next Local Government Association Conference requesting all NSW Councils to adopt a state wide approach to introducing registration fees for bicycles in all Local Government areas, such motion to read as follows:
That all NSW Councils, as part of their respective transport plans, look at ways of introducing a registration fee for pushbikes in their Council area. This fee would be payable to the Council and would ensure that cyclists pay their fair share towards the upkeep of roadways and cycle ways in the Council area."
Cr Matson has slammed the wording of the motion as unthought through because bike riders already pay Councils their fair share to up keep roads and bike paths either directly through their own rates or indirectly via the rates that their land lords pay. The No Parking Meters Party has just declared that it stands for the economic persecution of bike riders.
Cr Matson has also called Cr Matthews political usage of the Eastlakes death as shameless. He said, "This will be an unfair rate slug on a section of the community that the No Parking Meters Party thinks it can intimidate into silence by shamelessly exploiting the death of that poor woman in Eastlakes."