So much for being a provider of essential services. That’s the parting message from distraught veteran interstate truckie James Camrolakis who was so incensed by the treatment he got at the SA border recently that he’s calling it quits after 40 years behind the wheel.
After hurting his hip and wrist in a work-related accident, Camrolakis, 60, was making the long two-day car journey home to Berri, SA, from Toowoomba, Qld, to recover when he was turned away at the border.
Camrolakis had been under the impression that he’d breeze through the checkpoint on two counts: one he holds a valid truckie exemption pass, and secondly because he’d heard he would be okay, given he was coming direct from Queensland, via Wentworth, NSW.
“When I got to the SA/NSW border, about 25km from home, I got pulled up and they got stuck into me,” he says.
Their sticking point was the fact Camrolakis’s logbook showed he had been in Victoria a few days earlier for about four hours to do a quick delivery and pick-up, before heading straight back out.
The fact it was now 2am in the morning and Camrolakis had no food, water and was running low on fuel left at the time, also carried little weight with the authorities, said the distressed driver.
“They basically said not our problem, turn around and piss off.”
All he could do was turn back to Wentworth, 90-minutes away and check himself into a local motel for 12-days of isolation at $145 a night, the two days in the car en-route making up the required two weeks.
“The funny thing about the whole situation is when I was right go on the 14th day when I went up to the checkpoint with a general pass there was no questions asked. He had a quick look at piece of paper, didn’t even ask me for my licence and said, ‘on your way, see you later’.”
“I’m pretty sure it was because I was a truck driver. I think they had a bit of an issue.”
“I’m just over it if that’s how they’re going to treat drivers.
“They’re screaming for drivers, yet we get treated like that.”
Camrolakis only hopes now that his story acts as a warning to other truckies travelling across borders outside of their trucks.
“If you are considering coming home during holidays, be prepared to have almost a month of isolation,” he warned.
“I don’t know what blokes are going to do. It means no holidays.”