The Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) was originally formed in Victoria in 1978.
MRA History and the MAIB
In 1978, the Tasmanian Government introduced its No Fault insurance scheme. The aim of the No Fault insurance scheme is to ensure that everyone, regardless of fault is covered for their medical expenses and any compensation in the event of a motor vehicle accident on public roads. It is a very good scheme and has served the Tasmanian public well ever since it’s inception. The No Fault insurance scheme is administered by the Motor Accidents Insurance Board or MAIB.
No Fault insurance is paid when we register our vehicles. The No Fault Insurance fee varies according to how much each vehicle class has incurred and there are many different vehicle classes. Motorcycles are assessed depending on whether they are under 100cc, 100 – 250cc, 250 – 500cc and over 500cc.
While initially there was some effort to balance the cost of fees for all classes, in 1979 the MAIB recommended and the government agreed that all vehicle classes should pay their No Fault Insurance fee in line with what that vehicle class was incurring, which at first seems quite reasonable.
How the fight was won
It took three years of huge protest rides, very hard work lobbying and promoting our case as well as attracting some very clever and hardworking riders, but in 1983, the oncoming Liberal Government gave a promise that in future motorcycle premiums would be tied to those of cars. This agreement continues to this time, although the MAIB along with the car lobby (RACT) lobbies against us. This requires the MRA to constantly stay vigilant and to maintain its contact and good relations with the governments of the day.
How MRA Tasmania got started
In 1979, the Tasmanian government started raising the annual registration fees for motorcycle riders. By 1980 the MAIB component was over $600.00 per year and motorcyclists were getting angry. Prior to this time a small lobby group known at the Federation of Australian Motorcyclists (FAM) were active in Tasmania. They has already had some success, but were quite small in size. Eventually the FAM agreed to merge with the MRA.
In 1978, in Victoria, the Motorcycle Riders Association was first formed with Damian Codognotto as president. They swiftly proved to be very vocal, and very effective as a political lobby organization. By late 1980 two groups of angry Tasmanian riders had got together, determined to start fighting the No Fault insurance increases and they both wrote to Damian and the Victorian MRA for assistance and advice. Damian put the two groups together and the first MRA meeting was held at the Tasmanian Uni in September 1980. A second meeting was held in October of that year with a committee set up and Paul Williams was elected the first MRA president.
In accordance with the practice of the Victorian MRA, the Tasmanian MRA decided that we needed to have a broader appeal to riders that just political lobbying so we decided to conduct social events. The first MRA run was an overnight camping run in November 1980 to Coles Bay. The Coles Bay Run became a November tradition for many years until it was killed off by restrictive camping legislation and overcrowding at the campsite.
Motorcycle rider training in Tasmania came about primarily because of MRA lobbying. At the time of the fight against the No Fault insurance scheme, the government were quite rightly coming back to us with the motorcycle crash statistics which were quite high at the time. Additionally the government were talking of forcing riders to wear day glo vests, banning large motorcycles, three year L plate requirements etc.
As motorcyclists we decided that wasn’t acceptable and lobbied fiercely against these ideas. However, motorcycle rider training was in its infancy internationally and getting riders properly trained seemed like an acceptable option to us. We had heard of a group of Rokeby Police Academy trainers who were giving free riding advice and training at the Academy on weekends, so a group of us MRA people rocked down there to offer a hand.
How No Fault Insurance fees are used.
When a motorcyclist is involved in a crash, they firstly get all their medical expenses covered by the MAIB. This is regardless of whether it was a multi vehicle crash or a single vehicle crash, or whether they were in the wrong or someone or something else was at fault. These payments are called Scheduled Benefits. So far so good.
It only gets sticky when the rider seeks compensation from another party for damages. Say the rider gets hit by a car and the driver of the car is at fault. Maybe the driver was drunk or speeding or ran a red light. The rider sues the driver for compensation for the damages the driver has caused, as is their right. Motorcycle crash compensation claims can be in the millions of dollars, but even if the driver was at fault, because it’s the rider making the claim the MAIB expects motorcyclist to pay for those costs. Not good.
Most motorcycle crashes are single vehicle. If the motorcycle crash is a single vehicle crash, its rare the rider can sue anyone so no big compensation payout there. However under law it is usually found that in multi vehicle crashes (i.e. a crash between a car and a motorcycle) two thirds of those crashes have been found to be the fault of the driver. There fore we motorcyclists would end up paying for the mistakes or bad behaviour of car drivers.
If riders of motorcycles over 500cc were to be paying for what we are incurring (remember it’s a No Fault scheme so fault isn’t considered when setting fees) we would be paying annual registration fees in the thousands of dollars.
Introduced in 1984, the MRA conducts the annual Motorcycle Awareness Ride in Launceston to highlight to the public, the need to be more aware of motorcycle riders on the roads.
In 2007 the organisation was been restructured into three autonomous groups (Northwest, North and South). These three groups work autonomously, coming together to host the larger events such as Tas Rally.