Big Rigs cartoon
Big Rigs cartoon

Isn't it time drivers got a break?

SO, WE'RE getting a flash new government department called The Office of Future Technology to the tune of $9.7 million.

That was the latest in a long list of future-proofing type announcements in the past couple of weeks, and certainly a welcome one from our Transport Minister Michael McCormack.

Anything that can be done to get the drivers home safely has got to be worth that, and a whole lot more.

But reading these big shiny plans, especially from a government that may not be here this time next year, must be tough to swallow when you're grafting away wondering how to make ends meet today.

It's especially galling when politicians and others in power keep stinging the little guy in the pocket.

ATA chair Geoff Crouch took up the fight in a hard-hitting column on Fullyloaded this week, taking the government to task for overcharging the trucking industry $189.5 million in 2018/19 in road charges.

He also pointed out that the ATA's members were being "hammered” by rapidly increasing toll road charges, landside port charges and local government charges, and the sooner the industry gets an independent regulator the better.

Until then, the driver is the one left in the cross-hairs.

Take the recent news of the ACCC's announcement that it would not oppose the Transurban consortium bid for WestConnex, the 33km, mostly underground, Sydney highway system.

We can only guess what that's going to mean in terms of toll charges for truckies.

As Mr Crouch so rightly points out in the same column, on the M7 in Sydney, truck tolls have increased from the same amount as cars to three times the car toll. And look at the absurd situation the truckies now face in some areas of Brisbane with new high-tech cameras in place designed to dissuade use of suburban streets.

As the QTA CEO Gary Mahon told me, no one wants to see the community streets congested, but a round trip on that toll road is $30 a day for trucks and that makes a dent in anyone's pocket.

Surely truckies are paying enough in road-user charges already without stinging them again. It's no wonder so many are looking for a shortcut at times.

Maybe it's time we ditched all that stress and went logging in the Victorian high-country, as our writer David Vile did in his excellent ride-along piece with driver Mick Walker on pages four and five of this issue.

No congestion, cameras, or road works there - bliss.

Big Rigs

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