The Age: First Bloke Revs Up for Charity

TIM Mathieson, the Prime Minister’s partner and a long-time motorcycle enthusiast, is about to climb into the saddle to raise $100,000 to fight child slavery in Cambodia.

He plans to ride in a pack of about 50 bikers from Kirribilli House, the Prime Minister’s residence in Sydney, to The Lodge in Canberra via Wollongong, Kangaroo Valley and the Hume Highway, astride a brand new machine on loan from BMW.

Each of his riding partners on the journey from Kirribilli to The Lodge, most of whom will come from the business community, will pay a minimum of $2000 to undertake the ride, and he’s inviting some of Australia’s best-known motorcycle racers and enthusiasts.

Among those Mr Mathieson has invited is ”an old mate”, Australian cricketing legend Glenn McGrath, who rides a Ducati Multistrada 1200.


”Mick Doohan [five times World Grand Prix 500cc motorcycle champion] was a neighbour of mine when I lived on the Gold Coast, so I’m going to invite him when we catch up at the Melbourne Grand Prix next weekend,” Mr Mathieson said. ”I’m also going to invite [V8 Supercars driver] Will Davidson, who rides a Ducati.”

The event, on Sunday, April 14, is being dubbed the ”First Bloke’s Ride Against Slavery”.

It is being organised by Hagar Australia, a charity that supports Cambodian children who have been victims of slavery and human trafficking.

Part of an international organisation that also operates in Afghanistan and Vietnam, Hagar boasts of having helped about 15,000 women and children restore their lives.

Money raised by the ride will support the Catch-Up School in Cambodia, which aims to accelerate education for children who have been subject to severe trauma and who have missed years of schooling. The children also receive medical and dental assistance and counselling.

Mr Mathieson, whose duties as First Bloke include a regular round of charity functions, said he was happy to offer his name and his passion for motorcycling to Hagar’s cause.

”I was very taken with Cambodia when I visited the country last year with the Prime Minister, and I’m going to visit again in a couple of weeks, this time alone, when I’ll see the school and study the work the Hagar organisation is undertaking,” he said.

As to Julia Gillard’s view of his return to motorcycling, Mr Mathieson said that when she became Prime Minister, Ms Gillard had told him ”I don’t think you’ll be getting on a motorbike for a while”.

”But she doesn’t mind me riding bikes every now and then, particularly for charity,” he said. ”The last bike I rode was a big Harley-Davidson 1300 Fatboy during a Men’s Shed visit in Mount Isa last year.

”I’ve owned four BMWs, several Triumphs and a Norton Commando over the years as well as a lot of dirt bikes, and it will feel good to be back on the road. My first bike was a little 55cc Yamaha step-through when I was six, but I don’t own anything now.”

Mr Mathieson has involved himself heavily in charity work since becoming the First Bloke, spotlighting illnesses such as ovarian and prostate cancer and issues such as homelessness and youth mental health.

Fairfax will accompany Mr Mathieson on his Sydney-Canberra ride next month.
Read more: