NSW reverting to type

Talking Turkey About Trucking

If the authorities who regulate trucking in New South Wales are one thing, then they are reliable. Yet again today they have reinforced the stereotype by aggressively threatening the poor old trucking industry with massive fines and prosecutions.

Nobody is saying trucking operators who consistently, blatantly or even occasionally break the law should not be prosecuted. ‘You do the crime, you do the time’. What sticks in the craw is the way the NSW authorities go about their job and the way the trucking industry is portrayed in their announcements to the media.

Today, at an industry discussion forum about the chain of responsibility, incoming Australian Trucking Association CEO, Chris Melham used the phrases, “We are at a really critical stage, in terms of industry and industry representation, because the jurisdictions are going to dig in.” and then “New South Wales is a very ruthless state when it comes to prosecution.”

Meanwhile in Sydney, the office of the NSW Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, put out a release entitled, “Rogue truckies on notice: increased “on road” safety checks this year”. Excellent fodder for the tabloid media to get their teeth into and continue the truckie bashing tradition of our great friends at shows like A Current Affair.

It’s all about presentation, it’s all about making the NSW RMS look tough. We, who are involved in the road transport industry, don’t need to be reminded of this fact, we get the message every single day, at Marulan, Mount White, Mount Victoria, the list goes on.

If you wanted to ensure the trucking industry did get a message, just announce the number of inspections and random stops would be vastly increased. The wrong doers would think twice, and those doing the right thing could go on about their business aware there may be more delays on trips, simple.

No, the message is not meant for the trucking industry, it is aimed fairly and squarely at the voting public in order to make sure they know the RMS is keeping those evil truckies at bay. The message also feeds, unnecessarily, the car driving public’s fear of trucks and their lack of knowledge about how to share the road with trucks.

“In 2013, almost 37,000 trucks had on road random inspections, last year this number increased to about 100,000 and in 2015 it will be even higher,” says Gay in the statement. “We know these operations work and since coming into government in March 2011 we have implemented the toughest heavy vehicle and compliance regime this country has ever seen and we’re delivering results.

“Since 2010, we have seen a 30 per cent reduction in fatalities from heavy truck crashes on NSW roads.”

Of course, this reduction will have nothing to do with the completion of the duelling of the Hume and the increasing use of safety systems by trucking operators. It’s all down to fines on the baddies.

Then the statement goes on to tell us about the fines. This one is especially aimed at commuters who use the Sydney tunnels.

“In 2015, we will be increasing the already crippling fine for over height offences from $2200 to more than $3700, the highest penalty to be applied for this offence under the road rules,” says the Minister. “If I have to, I will also downgrade or suspend the licences of drivers who recklessly cause damage or disrupt other road users.

“I’m not in the mood for anyone messing around, this year I want to bring our road toll down lower than it’s ever been and if you even think about risking other people’s lives, I will come down on you like a tonne of bricks.”

Thank you NSW! The trucking industry says you are welcome to continue to treat us as a punching bag!