Un­in­formed au­thor­i­ties

Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties are main­tain­ing a blink­ered view on the lifeblood of our na­tion – truck driv­ers

Owner Driver - - Wilkie’s Watch -

THE OATH of a po­lice of­fi­cer: I’m not sure which state it ap­plies to but def­i­nitely not any of the four eastern main­land states that took part in op­er­a­tion Rolling Thun­der. “To faith­fully ex­e­cute the of­fice of po­lice of­fi­cer, and that to the best of my power with­out favour or af­fec­tion; mal­ice or ill will.”

Mal­ice and ill will? Any­one fol­low­ing the cricket saga should un­der­stand that it is not only the do­ers who are guilty. What about those who stood by and know­ingly did noth­ing? In the case of road trans­port op­er­a­tions, it is do­ing noth­ing to cor­rect the wrong ac­tiv­ity.

No one from the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (ATA) is stand­ing up de­mand­ing truth in breach re­port­ing – nor call­ing for in­de­pen­dent, un­bi­ased re­views of heavy ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents to de­ter­mine the true causes of the ac­ci­dents. Nei­ther does NatRoad, the Live­stock Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tions, nor the Na­tional Road Freighters As­so­ci­a­tion (NRFA).

Are the of­fi­cers of th­ese sup­pos­edly sup­port­ers of in­dus­try op­er­a­tors so in­grained with bu­reau­cracy that they can­not see right from wrong? Are they so keen to rub shoul­ders with the almighty that they have lost the knowl­edge of what is right and what is wrong? Are they just driven by self-in­ter­est?

En­force­ment is cast­ing un­re­searched and ma­li­cious ac­cu­sa­tions against a whole in­dus­try. After months of se­crecy from at­ten­dees of the reg­u­lar Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) meet­ings, we are now told that the NHVR is do­ing what it was sup­posed to do – how many years ago? – and meet with all state en­force­ment agen­cies. Why? To en­sure greater con­sis­tency and har­mon­i­sa­tion of work­ing prac­tices! So the per­se­cu­tion is go­ing to be con­sis­tent? And in­dus­try man­age­ment be­moans its in­abil­ity to at­tract good op­er­a­tors.

Stupid me thinks a far more pro­duc­tive road to bet­ter safety outcomes would be to in­sti­tute driver ed­u­ca­tion across the board in, say, year 10 at sec­ondary schools. It might be more ben­e­fi­cial from both a safety and in­tegrity per­spec­tive than teach­ing kids how to play cricket. What per­cent­age of multi-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing trucks are caused by other par­ties?

It pains me to say it but we have be­come a na­tion of idiots; a na­tion so de­void of in­tegrity that the al­most 10 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion who early last cen­tury, for King and Coun­try, of­fered their very lives to pro­tect their so­ci­ety, must all be turn­ing over in their graves now.


A word of warn­ing to those con­tem­plat­ing hav­ing a go at re­peat­ing Ra­zor­back – don’t be fools. Firstly, leg­is­la­tion has changed and th­ese days you will cop the full wrath of anti-ter­ror­ist leg­is­la­tion. Also, you will un­der­mine any so­ci­ety sup­port we might still have after the go­ing over by ly­ing en­force­ment that we have copped.

Can I sug­gest we nom­i­nate a ‘politi­cians day’ in­stead of a block­ade? We all trot off to see the lo­cal politi­cian on a nom­i­nated day. The list of griev­ances needs to be from the same hymn sheet. Re­mem­ber, politi­cians are our ser­vants and bu­reau­cracy is sup­posed to be the slave of politi­cians.

Quite some time ago bu­reau­cracy found it could gain pres­tige and au­thor­ity by by­pass­ing a politi­cian’s need to know via a sit­u­a­tion called ex­ec­u­tive govern­ment.

When flawed pro­grams be­came a prob­lem through non-re­searched de­sign – or even un­sup­ported as­sump­tions – bu­reau­cracy came up with a neat idea of in­volv­ing in­dus­try play­ers. When new leg­is­la­tion was then pro­posed,

“The list of griev­ances needs to be from the same hymn sheet”

bu­reau­cracy could claim to have in­dus­try sup­port.

Sadly those from in­dus­try with more am­bi­tion than scru­ples have found a means of self-ben­e­fit that has lit­tle rel­e­vance to the greater in­dus­try. It ap­pears that NRFA, for in­stance, is keener to sup­port more uni­for­mity of en­force­ment ac­tiv­ity than it is to push its much-con­sid­ered pol­icy on fa­tigue reg­u­la­tion or the equally valid call for a level play­ing field with fuel-based regis­tra­tions.

In the in­ter­est of bet­ter recog­ni­tion of an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, rather than the pre­scribed tri­an­gles re­quired to be car­ried in case of, we al­low sub­sti­tu­tion by witches hats with re­flec­tive tape. The hats are more re­spected by mo­torists and not as prone to be skit­tled – or sim­ply blown over by a near miss. Ob­vi­ously the tri­an­gles are more room con­ser­va­tive and not ev­ery­one has the room to sub­sti­tute with witches hats.


I had a cou­ple of dis­cus­sions re­ported to me re­cently.

A big nob with well-ironed ca­su­als and pol­ished shoes was be­ing in­ter­viewed by a shock jock me­dia per­son­al­ity. I was told pol­ished boots demon­strated lit­tle idea of the le­gal hour pa­ram­e­ters. The same or a sim­i­lar per­son­al­ity is cur­rently push­ing lat­est tech­nol­ogy in the name of safety. It’s all as­sump­tion un­til there is a proper in-depth study of truck-re­lated ac­ci­dents. It’s a pity about some of his com­pany’s per­for­mances go­ing un­re­ported. Ob­vi­ously the per­son at the top only wants to hear the good news about his com­pany.

As was stated ear­lier in another source on this dis­cus­sion about new gear im­prov­ing safety per­for­mance, they al­ready have a high per­cent­age of stuff that is still shiny un­der­neath.

It hasn’t pre­vented them hav­ing ‘oop­sies’ though, has it? And their ab­so­lute de­ter­mi­na­tion to op­er­ate within pre­scribed time lim­its – fa­tigue man­age­ment – has failed to im­press oth­ers shar­ing their road. Nor has their de­ter­mi­na­tion to limit trav­el­ling speed to an ab­so­lute max­i­mum of 100km/h en­deared their op­er­a­tors to other road users. Yep, no over 100km/h for even a sec­ond, but do 100 ev­ery­where where the sign says a 100 max­i­mum.

On the one hand, the con­stant flick­er­ing of brake lights drives fol­low­ers mad. On the other hand, if you’re driv­ing to the con­di­tions, then ex­pect some pres­sure to let them go or suf­fer the is­sue of hav­ing one up your clack­ers demon­strat­ing im­pa­tience.

As in all gen­eral state­ments, the pre­vi­ous com­ments are not true of all of their op­er­a­tors but enough to spoil the goody-goody gum­drops mes­sage num­ber one is try­ing to pedal.


What about the bloke at Marl­bor­ough? Said he was out of hours and was quizzing all and sundry in re­gards to place­ment of traf­fic cam­eras. He had a time-sen­si­tive de­liv­ery to Cairns wharf ap­par­ently.

He was last heard ask­ing the ser­vice sta­tion at­ten­dant for credit for fuel. When it was ex­plained that the man­age­ment did not trust truck­ies to that ex­tent, this fel­low was quick to ex­plain that his boss would pay – not him, the driver. My in­for­mant couldn’t say whether the per­son in ques­tion was a 457 op­er­a­tor or oth­er­wise.


More bits of stu­pid­ity get­ting up my nose – the big signs near Queens­land toll roads ad­vis­ing that toll eva­sion is an of­fence. Since when does one need to be told that steal­ing is il­le­gal? All those yel­low sil­hou­ettes ap­pear­ing around road works – or pro­jected road works in the case of the M1 near the Gate­way exit have been there so long that the grass has had to be ‘ze­roed’ so that driv­ers can see them. There are so many fash­ion­able bloody fads in this coun­try and usu­ally at tax­pay­ers’ ex­pense.

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