Scotts denies responsibility over Sydney tunnel incident

SCOTTS of Mount Gambier have denied they were responsible for a recent incident that saw a truck towing their trailers halt traffic on Sydney's M5 recently.

In a statement that was circulated to their staff yesterday the company said recent reports were false and damaging.

"Drivers engaged by a tow operator which had been directed by Scotts to transport goods from Brisbane to Sydney approached the airport tunnel.  The height of the tunnel was too low for the vehicle.  The truck stopped short of the tunnel and caused traffic chaos," the memo said.

It has been reported that the "tow operator" had come over to Australia on a 457 visa, Big Rigs has learned that he is licenced in Queensland and the business Scotts contracted to do the work was registered in suburb of Brisbane from December 29, last year.

Big Rigs understands that the tow operator is a single subbie with one truck.

Today Scotts bosses flew to NSW to have discussions with the NSW government and police over the incident.
Scotts say they have a "substantial safety and compliance program to ensure that tow operators comply with their obligations".

They say the truck that caused the incident was not on the designated route, was not directed to drive that route and was on the M5 freeway in breach of its obligations to Scotts.

"Scotts is unable to monitor the driving or track the whereabouts of trucks that are not its own trucks.  Scotts directed that the tow operators engage a driver to drive in accordance with a Safe Journey Plan that did not include that route.

"Scotts denies that it was responsible for the incident or that its practices allowed the incident to occur.  It also denies that it encourages or condones the engagement of unskilled overseas workers on 457 visas by its tow operators."

Since the story broke last week 2GB's Ray Hadley has been receiving calls from people saying the transport industry had been inundated with 457 visa workers.

Mechanics had also called his show saying that some of those drivers had started a practice which sees them cut a hole in the bottom of the truck so that they don't need to stop and use the loo.

Big Rigs will be speaking to Inspector Phillip Brooks of the NSW Police and Highway Traffic Patrol Command to find out whether the company is being investigated under CoR responsibilities for the incident.

What we know:

  • A truck driven by a foreign driver carrying two Scotts trailers at 4.6m high stopped short of the airport tunnel which is 4.4m high on Friday February 5.
  • Traffic was stopped for two hours, as the driver couldn't reverse the truck or unhook the trailers an RMS official was called to turn the truck around.
  • If the truck had of struck the airport tunnel the main runway of Mascot airport would have been shut down.
  • The driver has been licenced in QLD since 2014.

Topics:  457 visas scotts transport transport trucks

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