Se­cond-class cit­i­zens

The law as we know it is every­one is guilty un­til proven in­no­cent – un­less you drive a truck

Owner Driver - - Wilkie’s Watch - Ken Wilkie

THE AD­VAN­TAGES of the new Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity leg­is­la­tion? Now we have to be proven guilty in­stead of as­sumed guilty and it be­ing our re­spon­si­bil­ity to prove oth­er­wise. My his­tory is not too good. When was it made a plank of democ­racy that every­one is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty? Cen­turies ago I’m sure. It hasn’t been the case for truck­ies in Aus­tralia for some time though.

Where is the moral­ity of these peo­ple? Those of us in this in­dus­try know damn well that this so­ci­ety can­not ex­ist with­out road trans­port and yet we are al­ways treated like se­cond class cit­i­zens. No trucks in the right lane be­ing just an­other ex­am­ple.

I have to com­pli­ment Steve Shearer, who has ab­so­lutely hit the nail on the head with his sum­mary of is­sues aris­ing from the bu­reau­cracy’s ill-con­sid­ered de­ter­mi­na­tion to have fa­tigue reg­u­la­tion mon­i­tored via GPS. There ap­pears to be a dis­ease con­tracted by pub­lic of­fi­cials. One of the symp­toms of the dis­ease is a de­ter­mi­na­tion to go head­long into new tech­nol­ogy ir­re­spec­tive of whether the com­mu­nity has un­der­stood the sys­tem and ir­re­spec­tive of whether the claimed re­sult for the new tech­nol­ogy is proven.

When we are talk­ing about satel­lite track­ing and mon­i­tor­ing of road trans­port op­er­a­tors from a fa­tigue per­spec­tive, the very first is­sue that needs to be ad­dressed is the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness or oth­er­wise of the leg­is­la­tion. Stuff the GPS. The rules them­selves are a dog’s break­fast.

A friend was writ­ten up some time ago and the breach was for do­ing 14-plus hours in a 24-hour pe­riod on a 12-hour book. It was all ac­ci­den­tal. As we prob­a­bly all know, the max­i­mum mon­e­tary penalty is in the vicin­ity of 12 grand and four de­merit points. The de­merit points are manda­tory.

Go­ing back some four or five years, this ma­ture busi­ness­man driver is num­ber five that I can name who has gone through the manda­tory court case aris­ing from a crit­i­cal breach and emerged out the other side with no ref­er­ence by the court to the manda­tory de­merit points.

Item one on the na­tional heavy ve­hi­cle law re­form needs to be a scheme to en­sure mag­is­trates un­der­stand what they are ad­min­is­ter­ing. These five peo­ple have only found out by ac­ci­dent that their li­cence has been im­pacted.

WHAT CUR­FEWS?

The en­quiry into over size over mass has been and gone. How many ex­pec­ta­tions of change were put for­ward? Some­where in the vicin­ity of 50? But still one has to chase all over the elec­tronic spec­trum to find amend­ments to pre­vi­ous re­quire­ments. And where the hell are the cur­fews listed?

I had an ur­gent need to check the Vic­to­rian code the other day. Got onto the heavy crane sec­tion where it talked about cur­fews in red, but no forth­com­ing in­for­ma­tion on where those cur­fews could be found. Yes I am an am­a­teur but even the spe­cial­ists claim they have to go to a po­lice site to get the re­quired in­for­ma­tion.

Queens­land Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion head hon­cho Gary Ma­hon has spent a lot of time talk­ing about mass dis­tance lo­ca­tion charg­ing. For sure, the cur­rent sys­tem has had me sub­si­dis­ing the heav­ies and long-haul run­ners since time im­memo­rial and I am not happy about that. How­ever, I am con­cerned that there is go­ing to be prob­lems with fund­ing al­lo­ca­tion to out­back ar­eas.

Does bu­reau­cracy – and I think this is a bu­reau­cratic push rather than a move by politi­cians – con­sider how this new fang-dan­gle sys­tem is go­ing to pro­vide ad­e­quate funds for out­back Aus­tralia? Some­where, some­how, there has to be cross sub­sidy. How can new in­dus­try be at­tracted to out­ly­ing ar­eas if trans­port costs are go­ing to be in­flated to cover new roads out there? Even day-to-day ex­is­tence could be jeop­ar­dised if costs of liv­ing are out of kil­ter with the “soft” ar­eas near the coast.

FUEL-BASED REGO

Talk about the new tech­nol­ogy dis­ease that bu­reau­cracy is bur­dened with: the Na­tional Road Freighters As­so­ci­a­tion has de­vel­oped a fuel-based reg­is­tra­tion scheme that is fairer than the present sys­tem and al­ready the ba­sics are in place. No com­put­ers or bu­reau­cratic wishy washy.

We al­ready pay a tax on ev­ery litre of fuel used. Change the bal­ance be­tween the up­front charg­ing and the fuel tax. The heav­ier one is, the more fuel used; the fur­ther one drives, the more fuel used. It’s an au­to­matic in­cen­tive to buy fuel con­ser­va­tive equip­ment, but even the present fuel costs bring that in­cen­tive.

Ev­ery busi­ness man­ager strives to lower costs. It’s a ba­sic fac­tor in op­er­at­ing within a com­pet­i­tive sys­tem un­like the bu­reau­cracy. Gary Ma­hon is con­cerned that in­dus­try gets a bet­ter deal on monies spent on in­dus­try’s be­half. That raises an in­ter­est­ing point. At over a mil­lion dol­lars a year, Queens­land car­ries one of Aus­tralia’s high­est paid pub­lic ser­vants in the land, and that pub­lic ser­vant has con­trol of Queens­land Trans­port which cov­ers the no­to­ri­ous rail fail and the traf­fic fric­tion-caused con­ges­tion on South East Queens­land’s M1.

Maybe a look at the costs the in­dus­try is try­ing to cover could be in order. There is no in­cen­tive in the pub­lic sec­tor to bal­ance cost and de­liv­ery.

A re­port in Bris­bane’s Courier Mail re­cently: the Deputy Prime Min­is­ter has got the tech­nol­ogy bug. He has called for tech­ni­cal whiz kids to de­velop a tool to help driv­ers stay alert. Again, the prod­uct is al­ready here. Just talk to the multi-na­tion­als about their so­phis­ti­cated cat­tle prods to keep their overnight op­er­a­tions man­age­able.

It would be hard to con­cen­trate on text mes­sages with the seat jump­ing about.

“We al­ready pay a tax on ev­ery litre of fuel used.”

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