Pallas 'monster truck' rant echoes in media

Foley follows former roads minister as glib label adds to fear factor in debate on more efficient combination

By Rob McKay | October 3, 2011

Opposition roads spokesman Tim Pallas’s use of the "monster trucks" stick to beat the Victorian Government produced a predictably negative echo in the Sunday Herald Sun and more invective from an ALP member of state parliament.

The Sunday Herald Sun columnist Robyn Riley ran a piece high on fear and tragedy but low on facts and solutions to both the safety and congestion issues.

Her article featured the death of Melissa Ryan in a truck accident and the campaign by her fiancée, Wayne Belford, for a so-called "Mels Law", described as "a tough set of road rules governing the bad behaviour of trucks on Victorian roads".

Ryan also made mention of trenchant truck-driver critic and radio talk-back host Neil Mitchell questioning why there had been no consultation on the plan to allow higher productivity freight vehicles to join peak-hour traffic.

At the same time, state ALP member for Albert Park Martin Foley was quoted in local news magazine Melbourne Weekly picking up where Pallas had left off, saying the Port Melbourne community had been ignored and that that suburb and Southbank and South Melbourne would become a "monster truck road sewer".

The contrast with the South Australian mainstream media’s handling of the expansion of the B-triple network was stark, with the Adelaide Advertiser’s leader comment linking safety issues with infrastructure.

It noted that truck drivers were amongst the safest on the road and that the majority of accidents involving trucks were due to mistakes by the other drivers.

"But that doesn't change the fact that having 35m-long vehicles on single-lane highways is dangerous," the newspaper says, pointing to problems with overtaking the longer vehicle.

"The State Government is right to point out the Dukes Highway and Sturt Highway, east of Nuriootpa, are not suitable for B-triples and major infrastructure improvements must happen before allowing these larger trucks on those busy roads."

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