The 2013 Australian Federal Election is upon us so we thought it was an opportune time to conduct an interview with the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party. Following recent events at the Downshift Meet in August, the timing couldn’t be better to have the chance to have a voice in the Senate.
We conducted this interview via email and spoke to Keith Littler, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Secretary. Here’s the transcript below:
DAF: Car enthusiasts have been around for a lot longer than just 2013. So why has the Australia Motoring Enthusiast Party only come into existence recently?
Keith: The Motoring Enthusiast community has been the subject of increased targeting through anti hooning legislation for more than a decade now, but recent amendments to these legislations and over-enthusiastic enforcement by police, transport and EPA are making it increasingly difficult to drive our modified vehicles on the road.
Attempts to negotiate with government about the rights of motoring enthusiasts were not overly successful, so the decision was made to form the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party in an effort to establish equal footing with those now in power.
DAF: Of course, laws and issues that affect car enthusiasts and car clubs are only a portion of those discussed and debated. What are some of the core values that the AMEP stand by and will help guide the decision process for those?
Keith: The core values of the AMEP reflect the spirit of the Australian Constitution, the notion of a ‘fair go’ for all Australians in a truly democratic landscape with minimal government interference in our lifestyle. All decisions taken by the Party must reflect the best interests of the majority of Australians.
DAF: Having spent some time in Germany, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the steps their government has taken, in ensuring their young drivers learn driving skills that prepare them for multiple driving environments.
In Australia, the reoccurring issue is that our young drivers aren’t learning the skills they need to drive safely and competently on the roads. Does the AMEP hope to bring this issue to the table in parliament through the Private Senators Bill?
Keith: Young drivers in Australia are taught to pass a driving test, they are not taught how to survive on our roads.
The AMEP, in it’s stance on road safety and driver education, will be fighting for the introduction of structured driver training prior to licensing, teaching new drivers how to survice on our roads rather than how to pass a licensing test.
DAF: Now to the general population/media, if you own a car that has been modified, or even if you just simply join a car club, you tend to be labelled as ‘hoons’. Has this propelled the proposed changes or the laws already in place which now affect those who aren’t ‘hoons’?
Keith: With the introduction of tougher anti-hoon legislation by all states, the targeting of modified vehicles by police, transport and the EPA has increased dramatically. The penalties imposed on those driving modified vehicles are far greater than those for any other traffic offence, and it is a sad indictment that anyone seen driving a modified vehicle is inevitably seen as a hoon.
It is unfortunate that ‘hoons’ tend to label themselves as ‘car enthusiasts’, as this has been turned by the media and the authorities to reflect the view that all car enthusiasts are hoons. It should also be noted that all of the anti hooning legislation now in place can just as easily be applied to every kind of vehicle on our roads; the daily drivers of every-day people can be just as easily defected and impounded under the anti-hooning legislation.
DAF: What impact do these laws have on car clubs and the general car enthusiast community?
Keith: The vehicles owned by motoring enthusiasts are spending less time on the road owing to the fear of discriminative targeting by authorities; a fear that if they are driving a modified vehicle, they will be singled out and penalised for owning a vehicle which is not necessarily unsafe, but for driving a vehicle which, through the ambiguous implementation of anti hooning and vehicle modification legislations, should realistically be considered a vehicle with “compliance unknown” rather than illegally modified.
Car clubs and motor event promoters are feeling the full impact of anti hooning and vehicle modification legislation through deliberate establishment of defect stations outside events. This decreases the number of entrants to an event, and effectively increases the possibility of the event losing money leaving promoters little option other than to cancel future events.
DAF: Who are the candidates representing the AMEP in the upcoming Federal Senate Election on the 7th of September?
Keith: The AMEP has nominated a total of ten candidates to contest the Federal Senate Election across all five mainland states. All candidates have a long history as motoring enthusiasts and come from a diverse background within our community; the automotive industry, event promoters, radio and television personalities, competitors and 4WD advocates. The candidates are:
Queensland: Keith Littler
NSW: Gary Myers
Victoria: Ricky Muir
SA Nathan Green
WA: Richie Howlett
DAF: How can anyone, as members of the enthusiast community assist or get involved in this cause?
Keith: The AMEP, as with any organisation, is only as strong as its members and supporters. Whilst membership and donations are our sole source of campaign funding, our largest hurdle will be attracting the numbers at the polling booth.
We ask all motoring enthusiasts to Vote 1 – Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, and to help us spread the word to all family and friends; and remember, it is our culture, our community and our lifestyle which is at risk. Support the AMEP and tell the world that you’re a “Motoring Enthusiast and Proud…”
Thanks very much to Keith and the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party for making their time available for this interview, and we hope that this has helped you, our readers, gain a better understanding of who this party is and what they are standing for.
If you want to join their community, you can like their Facebook page.