Wilkie disappointed, not surprised on fatigue petition

By: Brad Gardner, Photography by: Greg Bush

Owner-driver Ken Wilkie, who is petitioning Queensland to adopt Western Australia’s fatigue laws, says he is disappointed with the support he has received

Wilkie disappointed, not surprised on fatigue petition
Ken Wilkie

The owner-driver trying to get Queensland to adopt Western Australia’s heavy vehicle fatigue management laws has expressed disappointment at the level of support his campaign has received.

The Queensland-based Ken Wilkie started a petition in July last year advocating the switch to WA’s scheme.

But the electronic petition, which closed on January 3, received only 237 signatures in support of the move.

"In a nutshell, disappointed, not surprised," he told <i>ATN</i> when asked about the support he received.

"Look, I have to say disappointed. There’s no other word for it."

Wilkie says he is not surprised by the result because while many in the industry express support for campaigns such as his, they add that they do not have enough time to take part.

"We lack the ability to stand up when we need to," he says.

"One of the reasons I thought the petition might work was it gave people the opportunity to make a comment without putting themselves in the firing line too much."

Wilkie says there is also a paper petition in circulation. He is yet to see how many signatures it has gathered, but he believes it won’t have enough to convince the Queensland Government to look at WA’s system.

"I reckon we probably want at least 1,000 signatures to have any sway, and we’re a long way short of that," he says.

The petition had the backing of the National Road Freighters Association (NRFA), which Wilkie is a member of. The group ran advertisements on Brisbane radio but did not have the funds for a more comprehensive campaign.

"We were up against it from that point of view," Wilkie says.

The petition argues Queensland’s existing system puts too much pressure on truck drivers and has been responsible for forcing them from the industry and deterring young people from becoming drivers.

"The flexibility of the West Australian system will eliminate onerous legal ramifications when a driver accidentally makes simple clerical errors or exceeds time limits by small margins. It will also provide drivers with a respect currently denied by zealous and ineffective regulations," the petition states.

A new fatigue system is due to be introduced when the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator assumes full responsibilities next month.

The Western Australian model is seen as more flexible than the fatigue scheme used in the eastern states.

Drivers in WA can work 168 hours in 14 days, whereas those in the eastern states can work a maximum of 154 hours in the same period as long as they have advanced fatigue management (AFM) accreditation.

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