Cootes Transport may be forced out of NSW

By: Brad Gardner

NSW roads minister says Cootes Transport has failed to show it is worthy of operating in the State.

Cootes Transport may be forced out of NSW
Cootes Transport has been given 14 days to show why its trucks should not be banned from NSW roads.


Moves are underway to expel Cootes Transport from New South Wales, but the dangerous goods operator plans to fight attempts to keep it off the State’s road network.

Declaring he had lost confidence in Cootes’ ability to operate a safe fleet, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay has asked his department to issue a show cause to the company on why it should be allowed to continue to operate in NSW.

The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has given Cootes 14 days to respond to avoid having its travel rights cancelled, but Gay has already indicated where he stands.

"I have made my position very clear on the matter of heavy vehicle compliance. I want unsafe trucks off NSW roads," he says.

"Cootes Transport has been a repeat offender and enough is enough. Roads and Maritime has given the company every reasonable opportunity to demonstrate it is worthy of operating in NSW but the company has so far failed to do so."

But Cootes’ parent company McAleese has fired back, saying it is disappointed to have received the notice given it has worked cooperatively with the RMS to improve safety.

"The Company will properly consider the notice and believes it will be in a position to show cause as to why it should continue to be able to operate on NSW roads within the allocated 14 day time frame," it says in a statement.

Cootes has been under constant scrutiny since one of its tankers was involved in a fatal crash near Sydney in October year. RMS inspectors have subjected the company’s fleet to a number of inspections, uncovering a range of defects each time.

Most recently, Gay ordered the company to undergo another fleet inspection. He says around 320 of Cootes’ 400 trucks have been inspected, with only 179 passing tests without receiving a formal waring or a minor or major defect.

"In addition, our inspectors are in the process of deregistering unroadworthy trucks. The community deserves to feel safe on our roads and this blatant disregard for safety will not be tolerated," Gay says.

Cootes has rejected Gay’s assertion it has no regard for community safety, pointing out it has spent $5 million on refurbishing its fleet and improving maintenance facilities since the October crash.

"The Company has subjected its fleet to inspections, contracted out its maintenance and complied with numerous third party audits of its fleet and processes," it states.

"Cootes Transport takes its safety responsibilities extremely seriously and will continue to improve the standards of its operations."

Opposition spokesman on roads Walt Secord says Labor welcomes the move taken against Cootes, but has raised concerns about the future of drivers working for the company.

"This company has been a repeat offender. However, I am worried and concerned about the drivers who face uncertainty and possible unemployment because of the management practices of Cootes Transport," Secord says.

"The Opposition will watch this matter closely. I welcome the action commenced by Roads and Maritime Services against Cootes Transport."

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