Queensland police have been criticised for deliberately targeting one of the largest ever car enthusiast events to be held in the state.
The “DownShiftAus monthly shown and shine meet” , which was held last Sunday at the Rocklea showgrounds in outer Brisbane was attended by more than 1200 cars and thousands of enthusiasts. It was promoted as a family friendly day of fun for car lovers in Brisbane.
Vehicles from Porsche cup cars, Italian exotics to modified Japanese and American cars as well as dedicated drag cars showed up for what was expected to be a “chilled afternoon”. The promoters had positioned the event as a peaceful day out, with the specific instructions of “No Skids, No stupidity. Don’t give the cops a reason to turn up!”
Regardless of the exemplary behaviour of the attendees, up to 30 Queensland police officers and a special traffic task force blocked the entrance and exit to the event, which was held on private property, specifically to target modified vehicles.
In an open letter to Queensland premier Campbell Newman on Facebook, which has now received more than 5,000 likes and hundreds of comments, Matyas Fulup, the event’s organiser said:
“Yesterday, I organised one of the biggest events for car enthusiasts that Queensland has ever seen, at the Rocklea Showgrounds. Over 1200 vehicles attended from a range of enthusiast disciplines from four-wheel drives to classics, drag cars, Japanese, and supercars. The Australian Confederation of Motor Clubs and the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party also attended and made presentations, making this a political meeting as well. The behaviour of attendees was exemplary – I have never seen so many enthusiasts behave so well. There were no burnouts, no skids, and no antisocial behaviour whatsoever. The event was legal, held on private property and registered with the Special Interest Vehicles scheme.
Despite this, Queensland Police set up a sting operation where officers from as far afield as Ipswich were invited to shoot fish in a barrel. I immediately spoke to officers in charge at both locations, but was met with arrogance and an inability to be reasoned with. At one point, an officer compared defecting car enthusiasts to, I quote “if you want lollies, go to a candy store”. I have heard of dozens of stories of unreasonable force by officers. One example was where a representative from a Holden car dealership brought along a brand new vehicle from the lot to display it, and was held up for 30 minutes while officers went over it with a fine tooth comb in an effort to find something wrong with it. When he protested, he was told that they would keep going until they found something.”
The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party Queensland senate candidate Keith Littler, who was at the event told CarAdvice he was deeply saddened by the manner in which the police deliberately targeted attendees, noting that the constant and deliberate police emphasis to target car enthusiasts has to stop.
Due to a completely unrelated matter, a child (who was not part of the attendees) had gone missing inside the showgrounds, however none of the 30 attending officers stopped inspecting cars to find the child.
“The icing on top of the cake was when two officers attended from another branch closer to the city, and requested to gain access to the grounds to find a child who had been missing for over 2 hours. We assisted them to locate said child, who has been reunited with his family (and had a great time at the event). The community has rightly questioned why the 30+ officers who were manning the defect stations were unable to lower their fine books to look for a missing person for a few minutes, and the more cynical have suggested that it may be that locating a child doesn’t pay as well as fining people for truly trivial things such as slightly too dark window tinting (which I may add was done using un-calibrated equipment).” Fulop said.
Littler told CarAdvice that it was obvious the police were more interested in targeting specific vehicles than looking for a missing child, which he said was a “sad state of affairs”.
Queensland premier Campbell Newman responded to Fulop’s message on Facebook by saying that he agrees that it’s not okay to single out car enthusiasts.
“You should know that you can refer this matter to the Crime and Misconduct Commission for investigation. If you are not comfortable contacting them directly, I would be happy to refer this issue on your behalf if you provide me with specific details of what happened and your contact details.”
A video of the event has been put online which includes footage of the police traps on the service road that leads to the Rocklea showgrounds.