Readers who have followed bicycle helmet initiatives over the years will be familiar with the Australian law.
Australia and New Zealand are the only two countries with all-ages, fully enforced mandatory bicycle helmet laws. These laws have been
central to arguments opposing proposals for similar laws because of the
evidence showing significant
reduction in cycling after the law was enacted.
Well, after many years of calling for a repeal of their law, some Australian bicycle advocates are thrilled to announce that it is being seriously challenged. I received the below call to action in my inbox last evening. I’m not sure if non-Australians are welcome to respond, but if you are Australian, please submit your response by August 24th. Also, please forward this on to any Australians you know.
It’s been a long, dull slog to this point, but suddenly your action could make an enormous difference!
The Australian Federal Senate has appointed a committee to inquire into “Personal Choice and Community Impacts”. The Inquiry, instigated by Senator Leyonhjelm, is better known as the Nanny State Inquiry. The committee is currently seeking submissions from the Australian community.
Senator Leyonhjelm has singled out mandatory bicycle helmet laws as the foremost example of where the State exceeds its proper bounds by interfering in a matter that should be left to the individual. It would be a pity to miss out on this opportunity to be heard, and to influence government policy.
I understand that many of our supporters may be reluctant to become involved, on account of political differences with the inquiry’s instigator. It must be pointed out that this is a Federal Government inquiry, and that Senator Leyonhjelm’s role is as a member of the committee, and that it is not a vehicle for any particular party or point of view.
My understanding is that the committee do not want to restrict discussion to submissions from the usual health and safety professionals. Rather, they are seeking a broader input to include members of the public who can bring before them an understanding of the impact of a range of “nanny state” regulations on their day to day lives.
I know that many of our supporters have the knowledge and skills to include detailed analysis of the many failures of our mandatory helmet laws, and I would encourage them to include this in their submissions. But please, if you are just someone who has been put off riding a bike, fined or harassed by the police and the courts, or are just plain upset by the dead end path that mandatory helmet laws have taken us down, please make your voice heard.
The closing date for submissions is 24th August. There will be some opportunities to be heard in person by the committee in all State and Territory capitals in the ensuing months. It would be best to make it clear in your submission if you wish to be invited to appear in person. Details of how to make a submission are at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Personal_choice
Thank you for your support.
President, Freestyle Cyclists