Derision fails to deter Gillard protestors

Derided by federal transport minister, protest convoy against Gillard Government vows to "continue this fight" for an early election

By Brad Gardner | August 23, 2011

A protest movement derided as being "of no consequence" has vowed to push on with its campaign for an early election.

An organiser of the convoy of no confidence, Darryl Pedersen, says petitions calling for an early election will be circulated for another six weeks to "continue this fight".

The convoy, made up of a coalition of industries from across Australia, converged on the nation’s capital yesterday to protest against issues such as the carbon tax and the live animal export ban.

Organised by the National Road Freighters Association (NRFA), protestors believe a new election is warranted because Prime Minister Julia Gillard reneged on her commitment not to introduce a carbon tax.

But Federal Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese dismissed it as "the convoy of no consequence" that included extremists and conspiracy theorists in its ranks.

Albanese also pointed out that the likes of the Australian Trucking Association and the Australian Logistics Council were opposed to the convoy.

Pedersen, the Vice-President of the NRFA, says Albanese’s criticisms will not deter the protestors.

"I can tell you that everyone here has labelled him the ‘minister of no consequence’," he says.

"The coalition of industries is growing stronger."

Pedersen, who led a convoy of vehicles from Far North Queensland, says he has gained a commitment from Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce to table the petitions in Parliament.

He also criticised the media for its reporting of the event, saying it wrongly characterised it as a truck rally when it involved groups from different sectors, such as agriculture and retail.

"This was never a truck rally but the media tried to turn it into a truck rally," Pedersen says.

NRFA President Mick Pattel claims the Greens have "hijacked" the Federal Government, adding that a new election is necessary so Labor or the Coalition can govern in its own right.

Gillard formed a minority government last year with the Greens and independents. Opposition leader Tony Abbott attempted to do the same.

Albanese told ABC Radio the minority government has passed 175 pieces of legislation since forming last year and has not lost a vote on legislation in the House of Representatives.

"So the Parliament is functioning and it’s functioning effectively," he says.

"We have a parliamentary system in which people vote every three years, in which confidence is shown on the floor of the House of Representatives in order to form a government."

During Parliament yesterday, Albanese detailed the work currently underway to reduce Australia’s 23 transport regulators to three. Governments last week agreed to implement single regulators for the road, rail and maritime sectors.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator is scheduled to be fully operational by January 2013, which Albanese says will drastically reduce the administrative burden on trucking operators.

"No more will they have to deal with different weight regulations. No more will they have to deal with the current situation whereby a B-double in Queensland can have 66 cattle on it [but] when they get to the NSW border they are only allowed 60 cattle," Albanese says.

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